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Archive for Healthy Living

March 26th, 2014

Autism Eats: Introducing Autism-Friendly Family Dining

Groovy Green Livin Introducing Autism Eats

Today, 1 in 88 children under 8 years old is diagnosed with autism. It occurs in all racial, ethnic, and social groups and is four times more likely to strike boys than girls. Raising a child with autism can provide much joy, but also comes with its own set of challenges. Going out to eat at a restaurant can be difficult for any family, but can be especially problematic for families dealing with autism.

A young Boston family confronted with autism created Autism Eats as a way to “bring the fun back to eating out”. I had a chance to catch up with Delphine Zohn, who co-founded the organization with her husband Leonard, to ask her about Autism Eats.

Mark your calendars- the next Autism Eats event will be held on April 10th in recognition Autism Awareness month. See below for details.

Groovy Green Livin Autism Eats

What is Autism Eats?

Delphine: Autism Eats is an organization that provides autism-friendly non-judgmental environments for family dining, socializing and connecting with others who share similar joys and challenges

Why did you create Autism Eats?

Delphine: Going out to a family dinner when you have a child with autism can be very stressful. Behaviors can be unpredictable, other diners may be disturbed and the well intentioned restaurant staff typically does not know the best way to assist. To some families it can feel like all eyes are on them. Because of this many families decide it is not worth the effort and dont go out to eat. This is unfortunate and can lead to feelings of isolation.  We created Autism Eats to give families an opportunity for a real night out at a restaurant and to be with families who are experiencing similar challenges. There is no need to explain your child’s behaviors or make excuses which can be a tremendous relief. In addition we set up the room for success….food is served buffet style and is available immediately, music and lighting are adjusted for those with sensory sensitivity, volunteers are there to expeditiously welcome and check families in and there is an activity table for those that want to color or do a craft.

What do you hope to achieve through the organization?

Delphine: Our goal is to give families an opportunity to go out and enjoy themselves. We also want to help build community and relationships with others. Siblings of children with autism are likely dealing with issues that their peers are not dealing with or wouldn’t understand. Autism Eats lets them meet others who have similar feelings, concerns and emotions. It can help them understand that they aren’t the only ones. This is also true for the dads who may not seek out or have as much access to other dads of children with autism.  My husband, Leonard, had a dad come to him with tears in his eyes thanking him for starting the organization and telling him he has not been out to a restaurant with his family (other than McDonalds) in over four years and how wonderful it was.

When/where are the events? 

Delphine: Our last event was at Andolini’s Restaurant in Andover, Massachusetts. We had over 100 guests! Since then we have received inquiries from all over the country from individuals and organizations that want us to hold dinners in their communities.

Our next event is going to be on April 10 at the Recreational Education Center (REC) in Peabody, Massachusetts. In recognition of Autism Awareness Month, The REC is a sponsor of the dinner and hosting it at their creative play and learning space. A buffet dinner will be served and kids can eat and play for no charge. It is going to be a very fun night!

Who can join and where would they get more information?

Delphine: Information and tickets can be found on our website www.AutismEats.org.

Chances are you know at least one family raising an autistic child. Please pass this along to anyone who is looking for a safe and supportive environment when dining out with autism.

Let me know if you’re able to join on April 10th!

photo credit: woodleywonderworks via photopin cc

March 24th, 2014

There is No Place for Hate

Groovy Green Livin No Place for Hate

There is no place for hate. Ever.

This isn’t your typical ‘green living’ story so I wasn’t sure there was a space for it on Groovy Green Livin. But there is.

Green living encompasses so much. The umbrella is huge and in my opinion welcoming to all, regardless of where we fall on our green path. The journey isn’t only about finding ways to avoid toxins in the products we consume and use, it’s also about acceptance, community and ongoing discussion about how we can make the world a better place.

This is a story of anti-semitism. A story of hate.  A story of bullying. And it’s happening in my backyard.

The sad truth is this story could be happening anywhere and probably is happening everywhere.  At times hate crimes fly under the radar and other times they’re placed in the public eye.

Although this particular series of events is directed at Jewish people, it’s not only about anti-semitism. This is bigger than that. This is about all forms of discrimination and intolerance and what we can do to prevent it.

Over the past few months there has been a wave of antisemitic events in our small Boston suburb. School officials discovered multiple examples of intolerant and hateful behaviors, specifically in the form of anti-semitic graffiti – swastikas and the words “Kill the Jews”.

After these initial occurrences more anti-semitic events followed.

According to our Superintendent:

Over the past several weeks, we learned of several incidents involving some of our youngest students at ….the elementary schools.  Some children played a game that had anti-Semitic content, another talked about destroying a peer’s country because she was Jewish, a third involved withholding a snack because the friend didn’t believe in Jesus Christ, and a fourth involved the accusation that Jews had killed Jesus Christ. The first incident came to our attention because the parents of one of the children playing the game called the school to alert it to what their child had reported.  

Coming from the mouths of six and seven year olds, who may not even fully understand their meaning, clearly these words echo adult conversations that are overheard.

Thankfully our community is fantastic and jumped on this in so many positive ways, demonstrating that there’s no place for hate of any kind.

Why am I sharing this story of hate?

I’m not naive. I know there are bad eggs out there and there always will be. It just takes one. I guess I’m just surprised that this is happening in my backyard, which happens to be just outside a large metropolitan area filled with diversity. It’s a wake-up call. A reminder that bullying, racism and discrimination can happen anywhere. 

I’m sharing this because I strongly believe we all have an obligation to promote and teach acceptance. We have the power to create an environment at home, work and in the schools that encourages compassion, understanding and acceptance of differences. And I know that there are many more good eggs than bad.

The discussion starts at home.

  • Your kids are listening. I know mine are, even if they pretend not to hear. They are sponges and absorb conversations that they shouldn’t. So be careful. Children can easily misinterpret something.
  • Promote acceptance. Have positive discussions with your children, coworkers and family about acceptance.
  • Be prepared. Role play. Ask your children what they would do in certain situations.
  • Encourage comparative religion courses in the schools and participate in celebrations of differences.
  • Empower children to take a stance against any form of bullying.
  • Welcome the fact that we live in an increasingly diverse society

My youngest reminded me with a picture he drew that people are all different, yet they can still get along. Let’s work on this….together.

Have you or your community been the target of a hate crime, racism, bullying or discrimination? How was it dealt with?

 

March 20th, 2014

5 Healthy Habits to Add to Your Morning Routine

Groovy Green Livin Healthy Habits for a Morning Routine

My morning routine needs a makeover. The past few mornings have been rough. Thanks to Daylight Saving Time we have sprung ahead into very dark mornings. The combination of cold temps and darkness make for a very active snooze button. I just don’t want to get out of bed. 

How you begin your morning often sets the pace and tone for the rest of the day. Over the years I’ve found it extremely important to add a few simple healthy habits to my morning routine to help start the day off on the right foot.

As an aside, these are things that work for me and they might not work for you. It’s extremely important to figure out what morning routine fits into your life and own it. If you don’t, it won’t last.

Here are 5 of my favorites to add to my morning routine:

  1. Floss. Did you know that flossing your teeth  can extend your life and improve your gum health-yes it can! Brushing your teeth without flossing is like cleaning 70% of your body.  Everyone should be flossing-if you have teeth you should floss. Make sure you’re using floss without petroleum and Teflon. HERE are a few safe alternatives.
  2. Sunscreen. There’s no question, the best form of sun protection is to stay out of the sun (although a little outdoor time is recommended for much needed Vitamin D). It’s not realistic to stay out of the sun or cover-up 24/7 so we need to turn to sunscreen for some additional protection from the sun’s harmful rays. Find a safe, non-toxic sunscreen (don’t use a spray) and apply it every morning before you head outside.
  3. Exercise. Working out in the morning jump starts your metabolism and gives you an energy boost that will many times last throughout the day. I’ve been exercising in the morning for years and it works. Once it becomes part of your morning routine you won’t want to give it up. Remember to find a form of exercise that you love so you can stick with it.
  4. Screen-FreeI have to admit that most mornings I’m drawn to my phone to check emails and catch up on the latest news. But that can all wait. Take an hour or so for yourself before diving in.
  5. Breakfast.  We all know that breakfast is the most important meal of the day and there’s a very good reason: a healthy meal in the morning can balance your mood and help you handle what the day has in store for you. HERE are a few of my favorite foods to eat before my run or visit to the gym.

What are your favorite healthy habits in the morning?

photo credit: H is for Home via photopin cc

March 19th, 2014

Stonyfield Re-sealable Yogurt Pouch Allows Kids to Come Back for More

Groovy Green Livin Stonyfield Resealable Yogurt Pouches

Yogurt on the Go!

Parents with young children know that snacks are a necessity. When my kids were little we never left home without our arsenal of food. I remember putting a lot of time into packing the right things. Variety was key, as was quantity. Unfortunately I learned the hard way that forgotten snacks could very well mean an early end to our adventure. 

On many days, remembering the snacks was only half the battle. There were countless times when snacks were opened, two bites were taken and the kids were off and running again. The playground comes to mind as a place where snacks were quickly discarded so the kids could jump back into a game of tag. Many times the opened and uneaten yogurt cup or applesauce cup ended up in a garbage can since there was no way to close them up for transport. There was a lot of wasted food.

Stonyfield Yogurt Pouches to the Rescue!

I am excited to be partnering with Stonyfield for this post. Stonyfield has a new product on the market that was created to cut down on the amount of wasted snacks. Their new yogurt pouches are a convenient snack option. Each pouch is filled with organic fruit and/or vegetable infused yogurt and never have any high fructose corn syrup or artificial flavors. There are three different options and each comes in a variety of flavors:  YoBaby, YoToddler and YoKids .

Life would have been a bit easier if these were around when my kids were infants and toddlers.  

Groovy Green Livin Stonyfield Resealable Yogurt Pouches

With these new yogurt pouches kids can not only feed themselves, but there’s no need for us grownups to carry around spoons, bibs, bowls, and breakable jars.

The child-safe cap on the yogurt pouches reseals for flexible portions. The kids can take a bite or two and then put the cap back on, saving the rest for later. Each yogurt pouch can be out of refrigerator for up to 4 hours. It’s suggested that the yogurt pouches be re-sealed once and consumed within 24 hrs once they’re opened.

I’m really looking forward to tasting the YoToddlers pear-spinach-mango yogurt pouch. I think my kids will go for the standard blueberry and strawberry YoKids pouches.

What’s your favorite yogurt flavor? I’m sticking with vanilla.

This post was created in partnership with Stonyfield. I did receive compensation for this post. All opinions are my own.

photo credit: Mark Kenny via photopin cc

March 17th, 2014

Behind the Scenes: Filming a Green Living Makeover Video with Manilla

Groovy Green Livin Filming a Green Living Makeover

I’m back in Boston after a day of filming a green living makeover video with the fabulous team from Manilla. As many of you know I’m Manilla’s Green Living Expert and I was asked to makeover a college student’s apartment that was a complete ‘green’ disaster!

There’s nothing like heading into Manhattan for the day. Yes, it’s exhausting, but it’s such an easy trip. I just hopped on the Acela and took a 3 1/2 hour train ride into Penn Station.

My morning in New York started off when I arrived at the prestigious Hearst Tower in Manhattan, home to Manilla and some of the most well known magazines including Marie-Claire, Seventeen, Good Housekeeping and Cosmopolitan.

Groovy Green Livin Filming a Green Living Makeover

The filming of the makeover took place on the 29th floor where Good Housekeeping Magazine is located. It was incredible to see the test kitchens and various rooms filled with appliances and vacuums.

Green Living Makeover

The purpose of the video: It was my job to makeover a college student’s apartment and turn it into a lean, green, eco-friendly machine.

Annie, a senior at Fordham University, was in desperate need of a green living makeover. Her apartment was filled with plastics and paper products along with toxic cleaning supplies. She was a great sport and so much fun to work with, as was the entire Manilla team.

Groovy Green Livin filming a green living makeover

I’ve filmed other videos for Manilla, but this was different. We spent about 6 hours filming, which will ultimately end up as a 4 minute video. We shot each segment over and over so the editing crew has quite a bit of footage to choose from. There were hand closeups, b-roll footage (extra footage) and me trying desperately to get through each take without a mistake! 

Groovy Green Livin filming a green living makeover

We started off using cue cards, but that didn’t work very well. I ended up memorizing my lines and improvising. Now the makeover editing team will have to work their magic.

Groovy Green Livin Green Living Makeover

After the Green Living Makeover

I was really excited to see Annie’s apartment after some of my suggested changes had been made. Stay tuned to see what happened!

While you’re waiting feel free to check out my other Manilla Mini videos:

  1. Green Your Kitchen in 4 Easy Steps! 
  2. 5 Simple Steps to a Greener Life
  3. Eco-Friendly Cleaning Tips and 
  4. 5 Ways to Go Green and Save Green
  5. The Benefits of Going Green

If you were offered a green living makeover what’s the first thing you would want to change? 

 

photo credit: simonk via photopin cc

March 12th, 2014

Hey Walgreens, It’s Time to Ditch the Toxic Products

Groovy Green Livin Walgreens

Almost a year ago I went into our local Walgreens and asked them to take steps to remove toxic chemicals from the products they sell.

Asking Walgreens to Mind the Store

My visit to Walgreens was part of a larger movement coordinated by Safer Chemicals Healthy Families called  Mind the Store. Together we were asking the nation’s top 10 retailers to avoid carrying the Hazardous 100+ toxic chemicals. These toxic chemicals have been linked to cancer,infertilitylearning and developmental disabilities, behavioral problems,obesity, diabetes, and asthma.

Groovy Green Livin Walgreens

Some of the retailers listened! Recently Target and Walmart announced new chemicals policies. While their policies aren’t enough, they’re a big step in the right direction.

I know I’m not alone when I say that many of us are frustrated that toxic chemicals linked to cancer and birth defects are commonly found in products we buy for our families. Basic products such as toys, soaps, shampoo, and cleaning products. Remember there was even a  cancer causing chemical found in Tide laundry detergent?

How you can help

Walgreens is the nation’s largest drugstore chain, and they have the power — and moral responsibility — to ensure that the products they sell do not contain dangerous chemicals harmful to our health.

Unfortunately, Walgreens has yet to respond to our repeated letters and requests to do something.

Join me along with Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families to call on Walgreens to Mind the Store and protect our families from unnecessary dangerous chemicals.

Send them a message HERE. I promise it will only take a few seconds.

TAKE ACTION: Tell Walgreens: no more toxic products!

Are you more likely to shop at Target and Walmart since they created new chemical policies?

photo credit: kaihm via photopin cc

March 10th, 2014

5 Ways to Green Your Spring

Groovy Green Livin Spring

I’m patiently waiting for a sign of spring. Any sign. Waking up to yet another inch of snow this morning certainly didn’t help.

I’m going to have to pretend that spring is almost here. 

Most of us associate spring with a time for starting fresh. Flowers start to blossom and the air carries that wonderful scent of new green growth.  For many spring simply means cleaning out the dirt, dust and disorder that have crept in over the past year.

Here are a few ways that I’m planning to celebrate a green spring when it finally does arrive.

Do a Cleanse

Colon cleansing is one of the simplest and most effective ways to clean out our bodies by removing built up toxins from inside the colon. There are dozens of options available for clearing the colon of this accumulated waste and it’s important to find the solution that works for you.

The cleanse I do each year is a liquid fast for 5 days.  I use a company called Blessed Herbs which puts together a kit with simple instructions for the cleanse. The kit comes in two flavors, ginger and peppermint. I prefer the ginger flavor, but it’s personal preference. There are a lot of  cleanse options out there and it’s important to find one that works for you. Make sure to speak with your physician before doing a cleanse.

Green Your Grilling

At our house it’s not uncommon to find us barbecuing year round. We have been known to trudge out to the barbecue on snowy days just for the sake of a juicy veggie burger. Now that spring is just around the corner break out that grill and make sure you have green grilling utensils ready for use. Also read up on the proper temperature for cooking meat and other food on the grill. Research has shown that cancer-causing compounds are formed when protein foods (meats, poultry, fish) are cooked at high heat.

Green Your Spring Cleaning

Did you know that cleaning product companies aren’t required to tell us what chemicals they use in their products? From cleaning your carpets to your every day cleaning supplies, it’s time to reevaluate what products you’re using and either make your own or invest in safe products from companies that are completely transparent with their ingredient lists.

Invest in a Few Houseplants

Spring is coming and soon the windows will be open. If you’re looking for a simple way to improve your indoor air qualityindoor house plants are the answer. Many common houseplants act as an air filter, removing toxins from the air we breathe.  Here is a list of the Top 10 Houseplants that Clean the Air.

Start Planning a Garden

Over the years I have been very diligent about planting a garden each spring with my three boys. Working together to create a vegetable garden has always been an incredibly rewarding process. Not much can compare to watching children tirelessly dig and craft a garden. If you are interested in planting a garden HERE are a few tips to get you started  this spring.

How do you get ready for spring? Are you going to plant a garden this year?

photo credit: HereIsTom via photopin cc

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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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