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Archive for Healthy Living

September 19th, 2016

Steel Cut Oats and Yogurt Make a Perfect Pair

Steel Cut Oats and Yogurt Make a Perfect Pair

While on vacation this summer I spent an afternoon shopping in a quaint Maine town. In one of the shops, I discovered an entire aisle filled with Bob’s Red Mill products. After checking out everything I walked away with a bag filled with Bob’s Red Mill organic, gluten free oats. I knew this would not go to waste since Oatmeal has always been a staple in my house.

Steel cut oats are my favorite type of oatmeal. They are also sometimes called “Irish Oatmeal” and “Pinhead Oats”. Steel cut oats are oat groats cut into several pieces. This type of oatmeal is the least processed and as a result, it takes longer than regular oatmeal to cook. Well worth the wait.

I’ve started making steel cut oats in my slow cooker so I don’t lose any time on those rushed mornings (every morning!).

Bob’s Red Mill Organic Steel Cut Oats and Stonyfield

Steel Cut Oats and Yogurt Make a Perfect Pair

Now back to Bob’s Red Mill. This company has an endless supply of grains, some organic and some not and all of their products are GMO-free and there are plenty of gluten-free options. Bob’s Red Mill Organic Steel Cut Oats are top notch. When paired with a little Stonyfield yogurt you have an instant breakfast of champions.

Steel Cut Oats and Yogurt Make a Perfect Pair @Stonyfield @BobsRedMill #stonyfieldblogger Click To Tweet

Some people like to add a bit of sugar to their oatmeal. Rather than reaching for processed sugar, why not try adding Bobs Red Mill Organic Coconut Sugar? Coconut sugar has a similar flavor to brown sugar and isn’t quite as processed. But sugar is sugar and it’s important to use moderation. I like my oatmeal straight up without any sweetener. Adding fruit, nuts, cinnamon or raisins works for me and is a great way to change up the texture and flavor.

Here’s my favorite slow cooker oatmeal recipe. It’s incredibly simple!

Recipe for slow cooked steel cut oatmeal

Combine 4 cups water, 1 cup organic steel cut oats and 1/2 tsp. salt in a slow cooker. Cover with lid and cook on low for 7-8 hours or overnight. Add your favorite dried fruit, cinnamon, nuts, raisins or yogurt. Makes 4 servings.

What do you add to your oatmeal?  


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 Disclosure:  I’m a Stonyfield YoGetter Captain and I do receive compensation.  Stonyfield partnered with Bob’s Red Mill for this post and I was sent a bag of steel cut oats and coconut sugar for review. All opinions are, of course, my own. Some links are affiliate links meaning, at no additional cost to you, I may get a small commission if you make a purchase. Thanks!
September 14th, 2016

Let’s Stop HIV Together

Let's Stop HIV Together

I don’t remember when I first learned about HIV and AIDS, but I do remember being frightened, confused and having questions. It was the early 80’s and I was young, but knowing someone who was diagnosed with AIDS wasn’t uncommon.

Fear of contracting the virus was everywhere and along with it came stigma (shame and disgrace that results from prejudice associated with something regarded as socially unacceptable). Stigma around HIV includes certain words, beliefs, and actions that have a negative meaning for those at high risk for getting HIV or those already living with HIV.

HIV has been around for more than 30 years. HIV-related stigma continues to be a barrier that we must overcome to reach the goal of an AIDS-free generation in the United States.

So many people have been diagnosed. People from ALL walks of life. Too many people.

Let's Stop HIV Together

So much has happened over the past 30 years since the first reports of what became known as AIDS.

We’ve come a long way with treatments and survival rates, but unfortunately, HIV is not a thing of the past.

HIV is not a thing of the past. Let's #StopHIVTogether. http://bit.ly/2ccLEJY @groovygreenlivi @talkHIV Click To Tweet
  • More than a million people are living with HIV in the U.S. 
  • Approximately 45,000 Americans become infected with HIV every year.
  • About 1 in 8 people living with HIV don’t know they have it.

Thankfully a positive diagnosis is no longer a death sentence. People can now live healthy fulfilling lives with the proper treatment.

While the overall infection rate has decreased in the US, there is a significant risk to those 50+ who are less likely to get tested and, as a result, are subject to higher death rates than those who are younger.

Unfortunately, the stigma still exists. It remains one of the underlying reasons for low testing rates within the 50+ age group.

Take a few minutes to watch Theresa’s story. She’s a mother, a grandmother and she’s living with HIV. Theresa is a perfect example that HIV does not discriminate.

What you can do to raise HIV awareness

Let’s Stop HIV Together (#StopHIVTogether) is a campaign working hard to raise HIV awareness and its impact on the lives of all Americans and fights stigma. The goal is to show that persons with the virus are real people—mothers, fathers, friends, brothers, sisters, sons, daughters, partners, wives, husbands, and co-workers.

We all have a role to play in stopping HIV, and it starts with supporting people living with the virus and talking about it with our friends, families, and loved ones.

  • Get the factsLearn about HIV and AIDS, and take steps to protect yourself.
  • Get testedTest. It’s easy, free, fast, and confidential.
  • Get InvolvedShare your story, make a difference, support others. Every voice and every story is important.

HIV is not a thing of the past, but rather something we need to continue to talk about while advocating for those most affected.

Let’s stop HIV together. This September 18th is National HIV/AIDS and Aging Awareness Day. To help reduce stigma take the time to educate others about HIV and safe sex . Share your own personal stories. Use your voice, whether it be through social media, writing or facilitating discussions! It’s the only way things will change. 

I have no doubt that together we can make a difference.

This post is made possible by support from the Let’s Stop HIV Together campaign. All opinions are my own.

September 8th, 2016

3 Safer Laundry Detergents

 

 

3-safer-laundry-detergents

Every summer all three of my boys go to sleepaway camp. When they come home their duffle bags are a disaster. Clothing is jammed inside mixed together with sand, dirt and other surprises. Laundry is one of my least favorite activities, but when my kids come from home from camp it’s a must.

When it comes to laundry detergents, some really are safer than others. Making your own is always the best option but isn’t for everyone (like me!). Instead, I’ve opted for investing the time to find safer brands that actually work.

Here are a few of my favorites.

Better Life Laundry Detergent, Lavender Grapefruit

I’ve been using Better Life products for many years. Better Life Laundry Detergent contains no harsh chemicals and has a lovely scent that’s not overpowering like so many conventional detergents. It works great on colors and fairly well on whites and received an “A” in EWG’s Guide to Healthy Cleaning.

 Molly’s Suds Laundry Powder

Molly’s Suds Laundry Powder is amazing. I was introduced to this brand last year at ShiftCon. After meeting the founder and hearing her story, I was hooked.  This detergent doesn’t contain harsh chemicals, dyes and synthetic fragrance, toxins, preservatives, and GMOs. It’s also safe for septic systems and High Efficiency (HE) washers. I really want to try their Molly’s Suds All Sport Liquid Laundry WashIt received an “A” in EWG’s Guide to Healthy Cleaning.

Green Shield Organic Laundry Detergent, Free & Clear

GreenShield Organic USDA Organic Free & Clear Laundry Detergent is a staple in my home. It was created by a dad on a mission to protect families from the harmful chemicals found in most cleaning products. Their products are certified organic, which means that their products must contain 95% or higher organic ingredients. It received an “A” in EWG’s Guide to Healthy Cleaning.

What’s your favorite laundry detergent? I would love to hear!


P.S. If you liked this post you might enjoy our FREE 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. Thank you! 
July 13th, 2016

5 Fabulous Ways to Donate Used Toys

5 Fabulous Ways to Donate Used Toys Groovy Green LivinThe toys were starting to take over. We have a closet in our basement that was bursting at the seams. It was filled with trucks, cars, trains and every imaginable game from the time my three boys were toddlers.

All three of my kids are at sleepaway camp for a few weeks. I’m missing them like crazy, but I know they’re having a fantastic time. The time for sorting and cleaning out that overflowing closet was here.

Over multiple days I pulled everything out and started sorting them into piles. Most were in decent shape so I really wanted to find a good home for them.

Many of the charities out there such as Goodwill and The Salvation Army take donations and resell them in their retail shops. The proceeds from any sale are then placed back into programs they support. As much as I love seeing the toys used for something good, they’re not directly donated to those in need. While this is an OK option, I knew that I wanted to pass along the toys directly to a family who would use them.

Here are 5 ways to donate used toys directly to a child in need

Here are 5 ways to donate used toys directly to a child in need Click To Tweet

FREECYCLE

I started with Freecycle, which is an amazing nonprofit movement of people who are giving (and getting) stuff for free in their own towns. It’s all about reusing and keeping good stuff out of landfills. There is a Freecycle group in the town next to mine. I posted all the cars, trucks and trains on the site. A sweet woman was at my house within an hour. She takes care of her great-nephew so the toys were perfect. There’s no tax deduction if you use Freecycle.

ROOM TO GROW, Boston and New York

Room to Grow helps babies born into poverty throughout their first three years of life. The organization provides families with developmental information, customized support, and all of the needed baby items. If you live in Boston or New York this organization is a great option. They are looking for donations that are new or nearly new, clean and in truly excellent condition.

SECOND CHANCE TOYS

If there isn’t a collection in your area Second Chance Toys could be the answer. If you can gather 50+  gently used plastic toys from your community, Second Chance Toys will arrange for a drop-off at a local organization. Just go to collect toys to register.  They’ll give you access to flyers, merchandise and other promotional items to promote your collection.

HOMELESS SHELTERS

Check HERE to see if there’s a local homeless shelter in your area. Please call them to see if there’s a need before dropping off a donation. Local homeless shelters may want small toys to give to children they are housing.

STUFFED ANIMALS FOR EMERGENCIES (SAFE)

If you have stuffed animals to donate try Stuffed Animals for Emergencies. The organization was founded to help ease anxiety and fear when children are in a crisis situation. SAFE chapter members collect new and gently used stuffed animals, toys, books and blankets to be redistributed to emergency organizations, children’s services, hospitals, homeless shelters and many other places that help children during times of crisis.

Do you have any other donation suggestions to add to the list? 


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


 

July 6th, 2016

Are “Formaldehyde-Free” Hair Straighteners Safe?

Are "Formaldehyde-Free" Hair Straighteners Safe? Groovy Green Livin

For years I struggled with my curly hair. I could never embrace the curl, and instead, I fought it.  I would blow dry my hair for at least an hour to tame the curls. The end result was a shoulder length, stick straight bob. Years later I finally embraced the curl and it was so liberating. My hair was big, bold and curly and I had much more time on my hands.

Years ago I remember everyone getting a Brazilian Blowout or some form of a keratin straightening treatment. I have to admit that I loved the look. So silky smooth and straight. I never tried it myself, but I was tempted.

Then came the bombshell-Brazilian Blowouts and other keratin hair straightening treatments were found to contain high levels of formaldehyde.

According to Women’s Voices for the Earth: “Formaldehyde gas is a dangerous pollutant that can be severely irritating to the eyes, nose and throat, and long-term exposure to formaldehyde in the workplace has been associated with an increased risk of cancer.”

After this news, many made the switch to formaldehyde-free hair straightening products. Unfortunately, there’s more bad news. Many of these “formaldehyde-free” products aren’t much safer.

Here’s the scoop: many of the “formaldehyde-free” straighteners don’t technically contain formaldehyde as an ingredient, but they do contain other chemicals that release formaldehyde when in contact with high heat. For those of us who have struggled with straightening, we know that high heat is an important ingredient in the process. Using a hair dryer and/or a flat iron (both use high heat) is critical for these straightening treatments to work.

Are formaldehyde-free hair straighteners safe? The answer might surprise you… Click To Tweet

Even if you straighten your hair at home and use a straightening spray chances are you’re exposing yourself and those around you to formaldehyde. Cyclopentasiloxane, a chemical that emits formaldehyde at high heat, is a common ingredient found in flat iron sprays (also called thermal protection sprays).

In case you’re wondering, there’s less formaldehyde released from the “formaldehyde-free” products, but remember there’s no safe level of formaldehyde.

Here’s what you can do (thanks to Women’s Voices for the Earth for these great tips!):

Read labels! If you’re straightening your hair either at a salon or at home avoid heating products containing these chemicals:

  • glyoxylic acid
  • glyoxyloyl carbocysteine
  • cyclopentasiloxane
  • dimethicone
  • phenyl trimethicone

Take action!

  • Tell the FDA to put an end to Toxic Brazilian Blowouts & Ban Formaldehyde in Cosmetics HERE

Do you straighten your hair? What products do you use?

June 20th, 2016

Top News and Other Groovy Green Updates

Top News and Other Groovy Green Updates Groovy Green Livin

As summer vacation rapidly approaches for my kids (yes, they still have one more day of school!) I wanted to take a moment to update you on a few top stories of interest and other happenings over here.

TOP NEWS

Helpful Tool: Environmental Working Group’s (EWG) Food Scores app rates more than 80,000 foods

EWG’s Food Scores helps us find healthier choices in nearly every aisle of the supermarket. EWG’s Food Scores is the first app to rate foods for their: nutritional value; health concerns about ingredients (including additives and preservatives) and contaminants (such as mercury, arsenic and BPA); and the degree and type of processing.

I did a test run by looking up Annie’s Cheddar Bunnies. With 1 being the best score and 10 being the worst, they overall received a 6. The biggest issue for Annie’s, according to the EWG app, was with processing. Annies scored a 5, which means the product likely has more artificial ingredients, more ingredients that have been significantly modified from whole foods, and more ingredients overall.

This app provides a great starting point when you’re at the market. Remember to always read the labels!

Philly Enacts Soda Tax

Philly takes the lead and imposes a sugar tax on all sugar-sweetened and diet beverages. According to Philly.com: “The tax will hit thousands of products – essentially anything bottled, canned, or from a fountain with either sugar or artificial sweetener added, with a few exceptions.” The money raised will be used to expand prekindergarten programs in the city; creating community schools; improving parks, recreation centers, and libraries; and offering a tax credit for businesses that sell healthy beverages. Fingers crossed that other cities and towns follow their lead.

GROOVY GREEN UPDATES

Thanks to Cilantro Cooks for including me in their Expert Interview Series. What a fun experience. You can read it HERE.

I’m honored to be included in Tiny Box’s list of 27 of Our Favourite Eco-Friendly Blogs.

Thank you to Laura Wellington and ThreadMB for the wonderful article highlighting my site in her article: ‘Groovy Green Livin’ Is Groovy, Green and Growing! So many friends and colleagues reached out to let me know that they had seen the feature.

Top News and Other Groovy Green Updates Groovy Green LivinFirstSiteGuide.com was kind enough to list Groovy Green Livin as one of The Best Eco & Green Blogs To FollowThey went a step further and made me my own avatar. What do you think? Does it look like me?

Happy summer everyone! Do you have any top news to report? How about big plans for summer vacation?


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.


 

June 14th, 2016

Eco-Friendly Beach Essentials for Everyone!

Eco-Friendly Beach Essentials for Everyone! Groovy Green Livin

Summer is finally here and for many it’s also time to head to the beach. This year I wasn’t only on a mission to find the safest sunscreen, but I was also determined to discover a few safe-for-the-beach products for everyone.

Here’s my go-to list for eco-friendly beach essentials this summer.

Goddess Garden Spray Sunscreen ($17) Eco-Friendly Beach Essentials for Everyone! Groovy Green Livin

Goddess Garden spray sunscreenis the only sunscreen my kids will use.  Goddess Garden Everyday SPF 30 Sunscreen is my absolute favorite sunscreen this season. It smells great and is easy to lather on any squirming child. If you have a child that really doesn’t like sunscreen application try the Goddess Garden Spray Sport Sunscreen or the Goddess Garden Kids SPF 30 Trigger Spray Sunscreen. Goddess Garden is certified organic, reasonably priced and was rated a top choice for sun protection by EWG.

Coyuchi Beach Towel ($68)Eco-Friendly Beach Essentials for Everyone! Groovy Green Livin

I’ve been a big fan of Coyuchi® Organic Beach Towels for a while. These lightweight organic towels are perfect for a trip to the beach. Spend time on the beach or at the pool knowing that toxic chemicals from conventional towels aren’t coming in contact with your skin.

Klean Kanteen Reusable Water Bottle With Bamboo Cap ($24) Eco-Friendly Beach Essentials for Everyone! Groovy Green Livin

Say no to plastic bottles this summer with this Klean Kanteen reusable water bottle with a bamboo cap. This is a great water bottle to carry with you everywhere year-round. Breaking the plastic disposable bottled water habit reduces the use of fossil fuels and toxic greenhouse gases that come from manufacturing plastic bottles.  By using a reusable water bottle you are also helping reduce the number of plastic bottles that end up in landfills, sitting for years while they try unsuccessfully to decompose.  I am hooked on Klean Kanteen.

Organic Cotton Bucket Hat ($29)Eco-Friendly Beach Essentials for Everyone! Groovy Green Livin

Protect your face and head with this Organic Cotton Bucket Hat. I love that this hat is also UPF 50+ and crushable if you’re traveling.

Planet Flops Natural Rubber Flip Flops ($30)Eco-Friendly Beach Essentials for Everyone! Groovy Green Livin

Made in beautiful Brazil with the highest quality natural rubber from the rubber tree (Hevea Brasiliensis), Planet Flops Natural Rubber Flip-Flops are so comfy! Natural rubber, as opposed to synthetic rubber, comes from the rubber tree (Hevea Brasiliensis). The harvesting of natural rubber occurs by harmlessly “tapping” into the tree to remove a milky sap from the bark and doesn’t affect the health of the tree.

 

What’s your favorite eco summer essential?


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. Thank you
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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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