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Archive for Healthy Living
June 16th, 2014
The One Fruit to Eat Organic: Apples
Organic apples are a must.
Each year the Environmental Working Group (EWG) releases a list of 12 fruits and vegetables called the “Dirty Dozen”. For over 10 years EWG has published this annual guide to help people eat healthy and reduce their exposure to pesticides in produce. The Dirty Dozen™ list of produce lists the top 12 conventional fruits and veggies with the most pesticides. It’s a helpful guide when deciding where to spend your hard earned dollars on organic food.
EWG’s Dirty Dozen™ list of produce includes apples, strawberries, grapes, celery, peaches, spinach, sweet bell peppers, imported nectarines, cucumbers, cherry tomatoes, imported snap peas and potatoes. Each of these foods showed high concentrations of pesticides when tested.
Why Chose Organic Apples? Apples at the Top of the Pesticide List
When we shop for produce we have many choices -one of the most difficult being whether to invest our hard earned dollars on organic fruits and veggies. While buying organic is always the better option, it can be cost prohibitive to buy everything organic.
Year after year apples have been at the top of the list as a fruit which is doused in pesticides. According to EWG, apples are the single most pesticide-contaminated produce item available at the supermarket.
We eat a lot of apples over here. Going through a dozen apples in a few days is nothing. I do my best to buy only organic apples for my family.
We are very picky about the type of apples we eat. My son loves organic Fuji apples and the rest of us will only eat Pink Lady. They’re hard to find year round at a farmer’s market or our local Whole Foods Market. The conventional version seems to always be available, but I’m not willing to go that route. I only buy organic apples.
Are there certain fruits and veggies you only buy organic?
photo credit: msr via photopin cc
June 13th, 2014
Father’s Day. A time for honoring fathers, celebrating fatherhood and recognizing the influence of fathers in our society.
This Father’s Day I celebrate all the fathers in my life. Those here now and those no longer with us.
Born in Queens, New York I was destined to be a city girl. When I was about 5 my family picked up and moved to Madison, Wisconsin. Just like that, this city girl was plopped in the country. I was not happy. And now I wouldn’t trade it for the world.
One childhood memory stands out. When I was growing up in Madison we joined a community garden. At the time I was so angry at my father for making us do this. My valuable time as a tween was spent lugging milk containers filled with water from our home to this garden. At a very young age I had a chance to connect with the food we were eating and the opportunity to eat seasonal, fresh, organic food that came from our very own garden. Thanks to my father I try very hard to instill that same connection with my own children, whether it’s through a CSA, farmer’s market or gardening. I’m not always successful, but good intentions are always there.
In honor of Father’s Day I asked a few bloggers to share their thoughts on any ‘green’ lessons (or not so ‘green’ lessons) learned from a father figure in their life.
Here’s what they had to say:
My father taught me not necessarily about the art of living green, but about the art of living simply. He is a man who does not need much to be happy. No flashy car, fancy clothes, or other materialistic item can light up his face. All he needs in life are his wife, his daughter, and now his grandsons. What a fabulous lesson about what is really important.
~Jessica, Eat Sleep Be
My dad, Bob, he’s always been “green” so to speak. In fact, he’s the first person who ever told me to not use bottles with BPA and I thought he was crazy at the time. What did my dad know about bottles and BPA!? Well, father knows best and I’m glad I listened to him. He’s the man who shared with me how to garden, cook and not waste food. When I didn’t like to go into the woods or be outside because I was too girly, he encouraged me and took my sister and me out hunting, four wheeling and fishing. I might not have enjoyed all of it back then but now I appreciate what he did for me and I’m thankful. He’s really a great dad and so many of his attributes have rubbed off on me and helped make me who I am today.
~Sommer, Green and Clean Mom
While I had an abundance of fresh produce around growing up in tropical South Africa, I never had the experience of growing my own fruits and vegetables other than my grandfather’s mini farm. He lived in a small town called Ladysmith 3.5 hours away from me and he had a decent amount of land where he grew things like carrots, cabbage, plums, peaches, and he even had a grape vine. I recall him yanking a huge carrot out of the ground, rinsing the soil out under the faucet and giving to me to eat. My grandmother was fussy about eating it right there, but he kept watch for her as I munched on it. I don’t think anything tasted better than that carrot or anything that grew on that land. I’ve always been determined to grow something and each year I try with our veggie garden and each year I learn to do it better. I don’t think I’ll ever get over the miracle of seeing food come out of the ground.
My father instilled a very strong work ethic in me. He taught me to stick to my values and not be afraid to go out on a limb for what I believed in. From him I learned that hard work pays off and that loving your job makes all the difference!
What’s your favorite Father’s Day lesson?
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June 12th, 2014
Summer Camp is just around the corner for all three of my kids. They’re headed to an overnight camp far away from home. This will be the first year for my youngest. My boys will be joined by 7 cousins for four weeks of fun.
We’re in the thick of packing and it looks like a bomb went off in our house. There are piles of clothing, sleeping bags, and underwear everywhere. Somehow everything will make its way into a duffel bag by the time we need to head out the door. Right?
Here are a few must-haves for anyone heading to summer camp (*affiliate links):
I’m a big fan of Mabel’s Labels for labeling clothing. Everything that goes to camp has to be labeled or it won’t make it home. Unfortunately, even with labels something is always left behind. My favorite labels are Mabel’s Labels Tag Mates, which stick directly onto the clothing tag and don’t come off. This year I decided to get the Limited Edition Camp Combo Packs, which includes a variety of labels (the shoe labels are awesome!).
Mabel’s Labels has a deal for Groovy Green Livin readers. This exclusive code is valid for $2 off any Mabel’s Labels purchase with the exception of Loot Bags & Write Aways. This code can’t be combined with any other promo offers and expires on June 30th 2014. Enter APY5SG2V at checkout.
Badger SPF 30 Sunscreen is a new formulation which isn’t greasy and is easy to apply. We started using it last year and it worked really well. HERE are a few other favorite sunscreens, perfect for those summer camp days in the sun.
I recently spotted Acure Organics Shampoo on the shelf at my local Whole Foods Market and decided to give it a try. Our entire family has been using Acure for a few months and we all love it. It’s an easy container to pack for summer camp-very flexible.
I’m sending all three kids to camp with a DEET free bug repellent. We’ve been using Buzzaway for a few years and it really works well. If you’re looking for natural ways to treat bug bites take a peek HERE.
Toothpaste is a tough one. They’re going to be brushing with Redmond Earthpaste Toothpaste.
I love the peppermint flavor. Every ingredient is safe to swallow!
My kids actually requested chapstick this year and it’s on the packing list as “optional”. I’ve been using Eco Lips Sport Spf 30 Organic Lip Balm Tube and just bought a few tubes for them to take with them to camp.
Writing letters has to be easy or you may never hear from your children. Last summer my son sent us several letters….without stamps. They never arrived! This Fold Over Stationery Set is perfect. No envelopes needed. There are two options: Tie Dye Fold Over Stationery and a Sports Fold Over Stationery Set.
Emily Baby & Adult Skin Soother (Unscented) is the absolute best for eczema. Love this stuff. My son also swears it takes away the itch of a mosquito bite.
Bug Bite Relief
Bug bites and summer camp go hand-in-hand. Try All Terrain Natural Kids Itch and Rash Cream to help relieve the itching.
Bar of Soap
A bar of soap is always on the packing list for summer camp. Tom’s of Maine Moisturizing Bar is heading to camp this year. We’ll just have to wait and see if anyone actually uses it!
My list changes a bit each year. Here are a few summer camp favorites from years past:
What are your favorite summer camp essentials?
*Some links are affiliate links meaning, at no additional cost to you, I may get a small commission if you make a purchase. Thank you for supporting this site!
photo credit: bruna camargo via photopin cc
June 10th, 2014
AntiGravity® Aerial Yoga (also known as “Aerial Yoga”) is all the rage. No yoga mat required. All you need is a silk hammock hanging from the ceiling and a few Cirque de Soleil moves.
I’ve been wanting to try it out for a while and this weekend I had the chance at Raffa Yoga in Providence, Rhode Island. The ride was just an hour from Boston in my Toyota Highlander. Toyota was kind enough to let me test drive the car for the week.
I was ready for a little R & R when I arrived at the yoga studio/spa.
Looking into the AntiGravity® Aerial Yoga room before class was a bit intimidating. I was starring into a room filled with the same Hammocks that Pink used during her performance at the Grammy’s.
I wasn’t quite sure how I would like dangling from the ceiling in a hammock doing yoga poses. As much as I love Cirque de Soleil, I like to watch the performance from a stable seat in the audience.
What is AntiGravity® Aerial Yoga?
Founded by former gymnast and dancer Christopher Harrison, AntiGravity® Aerial Yoga is a comprehensive fitness technique which allows you to practice yoga poses using a hammock. The hammock acts as a soft trapeze throughout the practice, much of which is spent in an inverted position.
Here I am looking happy in a pose. What you don’t see are the multiple steps it took to actually end up in this pose. I was in an inverted position for what felt like an eternity and then had to pull myself up using the sides of the hammock into this position.
Benefits of AntiGravity® Aerial Yoga
- Conquer your fears. You’ll probably be doing flips and inversions by the end of class.
- Huge core workout.
- Decompression of the spine through zero-compression inversions.
- Total body workout.
- Keeps your workouts interesting.
- Enables creativity through the use of poses.
My thoughts on AntiGravity® Aerial Yoga
The class was interesting and challenging. It was also empowering. Several postures seemed impossible initially, but when I tried them they were doable. I did flips, hung from my feet and laughed a lot.
I did feel a bit nauseous from all the inversions. There were times when the hammock was digging deep into my hip flexer and I wanted to scream. My understanding is that this intense sensation is part of the practice and gets better over time.
My favorite pose was Shavasana in the hammock. I had my own private cocoon.
Have you tried or are you interested in trying AntiGravity® Aerial Yoga?
June 6th, 2014
Breaking Green News
Life is a bit crazy over here with work, year end school activities and packing up three boys for overnight camp. I know I’m not alone, we’re all feeling the crunch right about now. I wanted to leave you for the weekend with a few breaking green news stories worth a share. I’m always amazed by what can happen in a week. Some stories seem bigger than others, but all are steps in the right direction.
Panera Bread to drop artificial ingredients from its menu
Panera Bread says it will remove artificial colors, flavors, sweeteners and preservatives from its food by 2016. One more example of how consumer pressure works! There are about 1,800 Panera Bread cafes in the United States. Unlike Chipotle, Panera isn’t dumping genetically modified ingredients, but their new policy also does state the chain’s commitment to ‘‘transparency”. This action by Panera is a step in the right direction, with room for improvement.
Obama’s new proposed climate rules
In an historic step to fight climate change, the EPA released its “Clean Power Plan“ this week. In a nutshell, the EPA is seeking a 30% cut in power plant carbon emissions by 2030. I listened as EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy delivered the plan on Monday. She said “When we think about our children, it’s easy to see why we must be compelled to act.” According to Grist, Electric generation accounts for about 40 percent of current U.S. CO2 emissions. Take a look HERE for The nine things you need to know about Obama’s new climate rules
Groups call on Method and Ecover to stop using SMOs (synthetically modified organisms) in their products
Many of us have Ecover and Method products in our cabinets so I thought this was something we all need to consider before purchasing these products again.
17 groups combined forces this week and sent an open letter to Ecover and its American subsidiary, Method, demanding that they cancel plans to use oils and other ingredients derived from synthetic biology, a new and unregulated type of genetic engineering.
The New York Times reported that synthetic biology ingredients are rapidly entering consumer and food products. Since there are no regulations in place and labeling isn’t required, consumers have no way of knowing whether or not these genetically engineered ingredients are in products. There’s also a glaring absence of studies evaluating the safety of these ingredients.
Parent organizations unite against climate change
In other breaking green news, Moms Clean Air Force put together a post highlighting a variety of parent organizations (including me!) committed to fighting climate change. I truly believe that our voices do make a difference. As Dominique Browning so eloquently stated: “No politician wants to make a mother angry. And nothing makes us angrier than threats to the little (and big) ones we love so dearly.”
Thanks to Moms Clean Air Force for all their hard work on this issue and for including me.
Do you have any breaking green news to share? Have a fabulous, groovy green weekend!
photo credit: PhOtOnQuAnTiQuE via photopin cc
June 5th, 2014
When I first heard the words “21 day cleanse” my automatic response was NO WAY.
After a few weeks and much convincing I warmed up to the idea of a 3 week cleanse.
Sounds kind of crazy, doesn’t it?
For the past few years I’ve been doing a 5 day juice cleanse. It was quick and painful. The juice concoction was making me gag by the end of the 5 days. And drinking juice-no solid food-for 5 days wasn’t cutting it. I needed a change.
I don’t cleanse to lose weight. I do it because it feels great. Not only does the cleanse clear out your colon, but it helps clear your mind and every other part of your body.
How the 21-Day Cleanse Works
The plan was to eliminate caffeine, sugar, alcohol, gluten, nuts, processed food, artificial everything and other possible allergens from my diet for 21 days. Doesn’t leave much left to eat!
My husband and few friends were in.
We decided to loosely follow Standard Process 21-Day Purification Program (affiliate link). I say loosely because we didn’t end up using any of the supplements that came with the kit. Instead we ate fresh, organic fruits and vegetables throughout.
For the first 11 days we ate an unlimited amount of vegetables (used organic whenever possible). Our vegetable intake was supposed to be twice the amount of fruit intake. We also added a cup of lentils or quinoa each day for protein and we were allowed 4-7 teaspoons high-quality oils.
No soda, no GMOs, no sugar, no fast food, no processed or refined foods, no coffee, no grains. No fun. You get the idea.
On day 11 we added in additional protein. Lean meat and fish, preferably organic. The meat servings were around the size and thickness of your palm. No deli meat, no cured or smoked meats, no grilling.
Tips to Cleanse
- Find a buddy. Cleansing with another person makes the process much better, especially if you live with that person.
- Mentally prepare. Cleansing is a mental challenge. Set your mind to it and stick to it.
- Shop for food ahead of time. We planned out our meals in advance, something I’m not used to doing.
- Cook in bulk. This was a lifesaver. We would make large pots of vegetable soup that would last for the week.
- Keep a journal. Throughout the cleanse there are ups and downs both physically and emotionally. Take the time to document your experiences to learn from them.
How I Felt During the Cleanse
Amazing. I absolutely loved this cleanse. As an aside, I’m generally a pretty clean eater so cutting out a lot of the processed foods wasn’t difficult. My challenge was eliminating nuts, pretzels and chocolate, all of which I plan to reintroduce very soon!
One fabulous side effect of the cleanse for me was no PMS. And I mean nothing.
After the Cleanse
It’s time to reintroduce foods back into your system. Standard process suggests that you reintroduce foods one group at a time to see how you feel from each. You can also assess whether or not you have a food allergy or intolerance as the food is reintroduced.
Are you ready to try a cleanse or do you think I’m crazy? Would love to hear your thoughts!
I am not a physician. Please check with your physician before doing a cleanse and to guide you through the process.
photo credit: Jeroen Pots via photopin cc
June 2nd, 2014
Getting my kids to wear sunscreen every day can become a tedious and frustrating task during the summer. I get it. It’s really not all that pleasant to rub a greasy lotion all over your body.
But using sunscreen is a necessity. Every day.
Here’s why sunscreen is needed daily:
“Researchers from Brigham and Women’s Hospital examined survey data from more than 100,000 nurses participating in the Harvard Nurses Health study and found that those who had at least five blistering sunburns when they were 15 to 20 years old had a 68 percent increased risk for common skin cancers like basal cell and squamous cell carcinomas and an 80 percent increased risk of the deadlier melanoma by the time they reached middle age.”
There are a few ways to inspire your children to wear sunscreen that don’t involve holding them down!
1. Lead by example. Show your children how you wear sunscreen and reapply throughout the day. Be a good role model!
2. Make it fun. Make up a silly sunscreen game-Simon Says put your sunscreen on your toes. If the application process is fun they’re more likely to wear sunscreen.
3. Let your child pick out their own sunscreen. My kids are very particular about the scent and texture of the sunscreen they use. Every summer I buy a few of my favorite safe brands and let them pick. All three of my kids will only wear sunscreens that don’t make them turn pasty white when applied. This year I added a few sunscreen sticks into the mix and they were grabbed.
4. Have everyone put on their own sunscreen. I know…we want to make sure every square inch of skin is protected. Even if your little ones don’t do a very good job, this is a great habit to create from an early age. You’ll thank me later. You can always go and do touch-ups if needed.
5. Talk about being sun smart. Explain to your kids why we all wear sunscreen. At some point they’ll understand and hopefully continue applying their own sunscreen as they grow.
Please remember: Don’t use a spray sunscreen. While spray sunscreens are convenient (I’m the first to admit that!), many spray sunscreens-especially the aerosol sprays-contain ingredients that don’t belong on your skin. Also, when you spray sunscreen you are likely to inhale the fumes and this is a much more direct route of exposure than when you apply the sunscreen directly to your skin. It goes directly into your lungs.
How do you get your kids to wear sunscreen?
photo credit: Boudewijn Berends via photopin cc