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Archive for Healthy Living
February 12th, 2014
When UPS showed up at my door with a box from Applegate my kids literally started jumping up and down. They know that there’s usually something fun inside a box from our friends at Applegate. The company happens to be very creative with their marketing strategy and my kids have come to expect nothing less. For example, not too long ago we had a Wienervention with Applegate organic turkey hot dogs. What kid wouldn’t love that?
This time Applegate sent us a Pizza Party in a Box to promote their Natural Uncured Mini Turkey and Pork Pepperoni.
The box was filled with everything we would need to have a pizza party!
- Both varieties of new Applegate Naturals Mini Pepperoni
- King Arthur Flour Pizza Crust Mix (also available in Gluten Free!)
- Small batch tomato sauce
- Recipe for mini pizzas
- Pizza cutter
- Kitchen towel
It was perfect timing since our fridge was looking pretty empty. Pizza for dinner! We made the dough from King Arthur Flour Pizza Crust Mix (also available in Gluten Free!). I divided the dough into three pieces so everyone could make their own pizza.
The kids really spent a lot of time rolling out the dough and making sure it was perfect.
Next came the toppings.
And then the final product. How can you resist this pizza?
What’s so great about Applegate Mini Pepperoni?
Once in a while my kids like to indulge and add a little pepperoni to their pizza. I cringe when I think about what’s in the pepperoni from conventional pizza shops. That stuff can’t have any redeeming qualities. So when a better pepperoni option is available, I’m all over it.
Here’s the Applegate pepperoni scoop:
- It’s made from 100% vegetarian fed pork or turkey
- No antibiotics
- No hormones
- Less fat and sodium than conventional pepperoni
- It’s $4.99 for a 4 oz resealable packet
Did my kids like it?
I’m not a pepperoni eater so I let my kids do the taste test. My oldest gave it a BIG thumbs up. He loved the taste and loved the pizza. My middle guy doesn’t eat anything on his pizza except for cheese and sauce. He sprinkled a little Applegate cheese on top and was very happy. My youngest gave it mixed reviews. He had already eaten a burrito before the pizza so that may have had something to do with it.
Have you tried Applegate pepperoni? I’d love to hear what you think.
Disclosure: The Applegate Pizza in a Box was graciously sent to us by Applegate. All opinions are my very own.
February 10th, 2014
Last week I had my annual mammogram.
It’s not a fun day by any stretch of the imagination.
I know that many of you know exactly what I’m talking about.
Being in New England where the temps are pretty chilly, I was already cold when I arrived for my appointment. I was asked to change into once of those little cotton hospital tops that has about 15 hanging strings that somehow tie together. I didn’t have the patience or the energy so I just left the top wide open. There’s not a modest bone left in my body after birthing children.
When I was called into the exam room I was shivering. Nerves. Cold.
The lovely woman (she’s always so incredibly pleasant-right?) introduced herself. My chest became play dough as she spent time arranging it perfectly on the machine. She then let me know that I would hear a beep once the x-ray machine was where it needed to be. If I couldn’t stand the pressure on my chest she assured me that it would be OK to ask her to stop. But then she reminded me that if I made it to the beep the x-rays would probably turn out better. After hearing that, I knew that I had to suck it up and wait for the beep. I was willing to endure the pain if there was a lesser likelihood that I would have to come back for more x-rays.
When that beep finally came “STOP(or @#%^!)” was on the tip of my tongue. It was all I could stand. She asked me to hold my breath while she took the x-ray, but I already was.
She took two x-rays, one on each side, and then I managed to ask if most people make it to the beep. She laughed and said “No honey, they don’t. ” She then said “Personally, I’ve never made it to the beep.” I didn’t feel like Superwoman. I just wanted to get out of there.
Two more x-rays with the beep and I was sent on my way.
I’ve been to two different types of mammogram centers- those that give you the results that day and those that don’t. This was the latter.
Why I Get a Mammogram
Getting a mammogram is scary stuff. We all know someone who’s had breast cancer. Someone close.
The American Cancer Society’s estimates for breast cancer in the United States for 2014 are:
- About 232,670 new cases of invasive breast cancer will be diagnosed in women.
- About 62,570 new cases of carcinoma in situ (CIS) will be diagnosed (CIS is non-invasive and is the earliest form of breast cancer).
- About 40,000 women will die from breast cancer
Mammography has helped reduce breast cancer mortality in the U.S. by nearly 1/3 since 1990 through early detection.
It has saved the lives of many women in my life and for that I’m truly grateful.
That’s why I get a mammogram and you should too.
Beyond the Mammogram
Breast cancer prevention begins with making educated decisions about what goes in or on our bodies. Our cosmetics, personal care products and food are all places where toxic chemicals can be hiding. Taking the time to read labels and ask questions is so important. The burden is on us to find safe products. Together we need to help shape public policy so that it focuses on prevention for all.
We assume that chemicals used to make ordinary products are tested for safety — but they are not. Our current laws are outdated and not doing their job. We need our government’s help. It’s time to get tough on toxic chemicals.
There’s a lot that needs to happen before women, men and children no longer have to worry about cancer and other diseases. We’ve seen the power of our collective voices. I have no doubt that together we can make this happen.
Do you have an annual mammogram? Tell me more……
photo credit: Eyesplash – feels like spring via photopin cc
February 6th, 2014
Companies are listening to you.
I’ve been so inspired this week by all the change that’s taking place. Companies are listening and making needed changes. In most cases the changes are a step in the right direction, but there’s a long way to go. Nonetheless each small step has a big impact.
CVS to Stop Selling Tobacco Products
Drug store giant CVS will no longer sell tobacco products at its more than 7,600 stores by October 1, 2014. The company estimated that this move would shave an estimated $2 billion off in sales. Let’s keep this in perspective- the company had $123 billion in sales in 2012.
Why are they making this move?
“Ending the sale of cigarettes and tobacco products at CVS/pharmacy is the right thing for us to do for our customers and our company to help people on their path to better health,” said Larry J. Merlo, President and CEO, CVS Caremark. “Put simply, the sale of tobacco products is inconsistent with our purpose.”
This move by CVS is probably motivated by many factors, but from a consumer’s perspective it’s a fabulous example of an industry leader taking a stand. The hope is that many more retailers will follow their lead.
It also highlights that CVS is a brand who is listening to consumer demand.
I’ve been working with Safer Chemicals Healthy Families on a campaign called Mind the Store. Together we’re asking the nation’s top 10 retailers to avoid carrying what are being calling the Hazardous 100+ toxic chemicals. These toxic chemicals have been linked to cancer, infertility, learning and developmental disabilities, behavioral problems,obesity, diabetes, and asthma.
CVS Caremark is one of the top 10 retailers and a proven leader. It’s time for CVS to take additional steps to remove hazardous chemicals from the products that they sell.
And while they’re at it, how about taking products with GMOs off their shelves?
Subway to Remove Yoga Mat Chemical from Its Bread
The sandwich bread at Subway contains azodicarbonamide, a chemical that’s used to make shoe soles and yoga mats. This is not a joke.
Subway just announced that it’s working towards making its bread without using azodicarbonamide. Yes, that nasty chemical is still in the bread, so if you’re so inclined to stop at Subway you’ll be getting a dose of shoe soles and yoga mat for lunch. Not to worry, a new version will be out soon. Subway you need to do better than “soon”.
Subway claims that this change had nothing to do with a petition started by Vani Hari, The Food Babe, which has over 67,000 signatures. Subway said they were ”already in the process of removing azodicarbonamide as part of our bread improvement efforts.”
Come on Subway, we all know that consumer pressure rocks!
Girl Scouts are You Listening? Let’s Make Girl Scout Cookies Without GMOs
Hey Girl Scouts….are you listening?
I’m sure each of you know a few Girl Scouts in your neighborhood who come calling every year when it’s Girl Scout cookie time. I have a weakness for Thin Mints.
Alicia, who is 7 years old, started a petition asking the Girl Scouts to make their cookies without GMOs. Alicia’s been a Girl Scout for almost 3 years. Her mom is a Troop leader for Alicia’s Brownie Troop and Alicia’s sister’s Daisy Troop.
When Girl Scout Cookie Season came around, Alicia and her mom looked at the ingredients in the cookies. There were a lot of words Alicia couldn’t read and she didn’t know what a lot of the ingredients were. She did recognize some of the ingredients as being GMO (genetically modified organisms). Knowing of some of dangers related to GMOs, she knew she wanted them out of our cookies.
Let’s help Alicia. If you want to see GMOs removed from Girl Scout cookies join over 11,000 others and sign HERE.
So what are we going to tackle next? If you have an idea I would love to hear about it.
photo credit: highersights via photopin cc
February 5th, 2014
I have struggled over the years trying to find non-toxic shampoos that actually work. It always a two step process. First the research, making sure the ingredients are safe and non-toxic. Second, the family stamp of approval. The shampoos have to smell nice and our hair needs to feel clean. We weren’t asking for much.
Keeping in mind that our skin, including our scalp, is part of our largest organ and happily soaks up toxic chemicals from all those products we are placing on our bodies, my quest to find a safe shampoo has been top priority. Using EWG’s Skin Deep Cosmetics Database as my guide I managed to find a few shampoos that passed the non-toxic test and then received the family stamp of approval.
My Picks for Non-Toxic Shampoos
(Please know that if you make a purchase using a link on this page, I may earn a commission and I am very grateful for your support of this site.).
Our go-to shampoo this year is Earth Mama Angel Baby Shampoo and Body Wash. This product isn’t only for babies! It has a slight citrus scent that isn’t overpowering. The shampoo comes in a self-foaming pump bottle. The Skin Deep Cosmetic Safety Database has rated this product a zero (out of a scale of 0-10 for low to high risk).
$9.00 for 5.3 oz
This shampoo is new for me and I’m really liking it. I know that lather doesn’t mean that a shampoo is working well, however I do like a shampoo that lathers. Hugo Naturals Balancing Shampoos really do lather, which is rare for a non-toxic shampoo. The coconut scented variation has a slight vanilla coconut scent that is really nice. Although the data is listed as “limited”, the Skin Deep Cosmetic Safety Database has rated this product a zero (out of a scale of 0-10 for low to high risk).
$9.99 for 12 oz
I recently spotted Acure Organics Shampoo on the shelf at my local Whole Foods Market and decided to give it a try. I visited the company website and liked what I saw. Their mission is to create high quality skin care products made from the purest, fair trade, natural and certified organic ingredients. More good news- I could pronounce most of the ingredients! The smell is interesting (can’t quite place my finger on what it is) and mild. The Skin Deep Cosmetic Safety Database has rated this product a one (out of a scale of 0-10 for low to high risk).
$9.99 for 8 oz
Although this shampoo isn’t big on the lather, it makes up for it in other areas. The shampoo is made with 15 certified-organic ingredients and is gluten-free. John Masters Organics Lavender Rosemary Shampoo for Normal Hair doesn’t contain sodium lauryl sulfate. The lavender and rosemary scent is very pleasant. The shampoo is a bit pricey ($16.00 fr 8 fl oz). The Skin Deep Cosmetic Safety Database has rated this product a two (out of a scale of 0-10 for low to high risk).
$16.oo for 8 oz
What’s your favorite non-toxic shampoo?
If you’re looking for a non-toxic body lotion take a look at my pick for non-toxic body lotions HERE.
Disclosure: Please know that if you make a purchase using a link on this page, I may earn a commission and I am very grateful for your support of this site. Thank you. (Read all the fine print here.)
photo credit: stirwise via photopin cc
January 31st, 2014
How to go GMO-free on Valentine’s Day
Valentine’s Day and chocolate seem to go hand-in-hand. Head into any store during the weeks before Valentine’s Day and it’s hard to miss the sea of chocolate.
Unfortunately many of our favorite chocolate treats are filled with Genetically Modified Organisms (also called GM, GE or GMOs). GMOs refers to crop plants that are consumed by animals and/or humans that have been tweaked or messed around with in a lab to boost desired traits such as: the ability of the plant to produce its own pesticide, disease resistance and improved nutritional value.
GMO labeling isn’t required in the US
Does that bother you? It bothers me. It actually makes me angry. We have the right to know what’s going into our food-don’t we? If we take a look at our friends in the EU and other countries -GMO labeling has been the norm for years. Yet in the US the FDA doesn’t require the labeling of GMOs in food ingredient lists.
5 Non-GMO Valentine’s Day Treats
If you’re planning to give the gift of chocolate this Valentine’s Day why not give GMO-free chocolate? Check out some of these choices (Please know that if you make a purchase using a link on this page, I may earn a commission and I am very grateful for your support of this site.).
I was first introduced to Wild Ophelia at BlogHer last year in New York. I was selected as Wild Ophelia Posse Member, which means that I’m sent delicious samples of chocolate to taste test. Although not certified organic, their products are GMO-free, made from many organic ingredients sourced from small farms and food artisans. They have some pretty crazy flavors including BBQ Potato Chips, Beef Jerky and Peanut Butter Banana. Wild Ophelia has a new collection of Valentine’s Day hearts ready for the holiday. The New England Style Salted Caramel Dark Chocolate Bites aren’t going to last long in our house.
These organic chocolate bars are made with pure ingredients from small farmers in Central and Latin America and all their products are fairly traded in accordance with internationally recognized standards.
Theo rocks. They state very clearly on their website: “At Theo we believe consumers have the right to know what is in their food and have made a commitment to non-GMO certification of our products.” Did I mention that their chocolate is also organic and fairly traded? A perfect combination.
Green and Black’s adds no synthetic chemicals or genetically modified ingredients to their chocolate. Green & Black’s purchases organically-grown cocoa for a selection of their products according to ‘Fairtrade’ practices with sensitivity to the well being of farmers.
These little Bug Bites are so adorable. Each square contains a fun and educational insect trading card. The chocolate is certified organic, gluten-free, kosher and non-GMO verified. The cacao is sourced from Rainforest Alliance Certified™ farms, ensuring fair trade, responsible labor practices and sustainable farming.
What’s your favorite GMO-free chocolate?
Disclosure: Please know that if you make a purchase using a link on this page, I may earn a commission and I am very grateful for your support of this site. Thank you. (Read all the fine print here.)
photo credit: Brandon Christopher Warren via photopin cc
January 28th, 2014
Valentine’s Day with Lunchbox Love
Valentine’s Day is just a few weeks away and guess what…..we’ve done nothing! Over the years somehow we’ve become very good at pulling our Valentine’s together at the very last possible second. Why should this year be any different?
As some of you may remember, I was selected to be a member of the Lunchbox Love Mom Panel. Thanks to Lunchbox Love we have a great Valentine’s Day option. Check out these clever Valentine’s Day cards.
The cards come in a two volume pack with 24 Valentine’s cards–enough for classmates and teachers. Each card in the pack says “Happy Valentine’s Day!” on the front and has a unique animal fun fact on the back.
The cards are small, about the size of a business card, so we are going to attach something to them. We have a no food policy in our school so we’ll have to think outside of the box. My son is in 4th grade so I think these Mini Mad Libs will work well. Have you ever heard a group of 10 year old boys fill out a Mad Lib? Pretty hilarious.
More on Valentine’s Day
If you’re looking for a few more ideas to make your Valentine’s Day eco-friendly take a look HERE.
Did you know that Valentine’s Day marks the biggest shopping day of the year when it comes to chocolate and flowers? Wondering how to avoid GMOs this Valentine’s Day? Some of our favorite makers of chocolate are some of the strongest supporters of NOT labeling products that contain GMOs. Make sure you look for organic chocolate or chocolates with the Non-GMO Project Verified seal.
Disclosure: I’m a member of the Lunchbox Love® Mom Panel and am compensated for promoting the company in a variety of ways, including writing posts like this one. All opinions are my very own. Also, please know that if you make a purchase using a link on this page, I may earn a commission and I am very grateful for your support of this site. Thank you. (Read all the fine print here.)
January 27th, 2014
See the Naked Juice in this photo? I’ve been drinking it for years. It’s green and made from a mixture of apple juice, mango, spirulina, broccoli, wheat grass and more. I thought it was so healthy. Boy was I wrong.
My kids also love Naked Juice. I was always so thrilled when they would beg for a Naked Juice at the market rather than a candy bar. How could I say no? All that fresh, “natural” juice in one spot. I practically yelled “YES”. I knew it wasn’t organic, but it did the job.
Unfortunately, all of that Naked Juice love has come to a screeching halt. No more Naked Juice for our family.
I wasn’t going to write about this since my friend Katy over at Non-Toxic Kids did such an eloquent job covering all the bases. But then I decided to try to reach a few more folks with this important information.
Let’s start at the very beginning. You may or may not know that Naked Juice is owned by PepsiCo, makers of Pepsi, Tostitos, Tropicana, Doritos and more.
A class-action lawsuit was filed against Naked Juice for using genetically-modified ingredients (GMOs) and synthetic substances in products that were marketed as “Non-GMO” and “All-Natural”.
Naked Juice denies it did anything wrong.
Naked Juice says: ‘Naked juice and smoothies will continue to be labeled “non-GMO,” and until there is more detailed regulatory guidance around the word “natural” ―we’ve chosen not to use “All Natural” on our packaging.’
So that’s a bit of good news. They’ve removed the misleading “All-Natural” claim from their products.
Here are few allegations from the lawsuit against Naked Juice:
- Although the juice was labeled “All Natural”, Naked juice was found to contain three synthetic ingredients: fructooligosaccharides, fibersol-2 and inulin.
- Naked Juice was labeling its products as “Non-GMO” when, in fact, it knowingly used genetically-modified ingredients in its products (genetically modified soy).
What we can take away from the Naked Juice lawsuit
- ‘All Natural’ is an unregulated term that means nothing. Remember that next time you see ‘All Natural‘ on a product. Products labeled ‘All Natural’ can contain GMOs. Until we have legal guidelines surrounding the use of this term there’s nothing to enforce.
- If Naked Juice did in fact use GMOs while labeling their products GMO-free that’s clearly deceptive and misleading-and certainly not a company I want to support.
This is yet another reason to buy organic products when you can. Organic is a regulated term and there are clear guidelines for products meeting the organic standard.
If you’re interested in learning more about GMOs join a free virtual conference, GMOs: What You Need to Know, from July 27-30 with Stacy Malkan and leading scientists, farmers, medical doctors, business leaders, advocates and wellness experts to learn about the genetic manipulation of our food system, how to avid GMOs and why this matters for the health of your family and future generations. Sign up for FREE HERE.
Is there a Naked Juice alternative?
My kids were pretty upset when I told them no more Naked Juice. They asked about Odwalla as an alternative.
Unfortunately, Odwalla is owned by The Coca Cola Company. PepsiCo, Nestle USA, The Coca-Cola Co. and General Mills, among many others, secretly donated millions of dollars to the GMA campaign to stop Washington Initiative 522, which would require the labeling of all products containing GMOs.
The best alternative: make your own smoothies from scratch.
I know it’s challenging, but do you try to stay away from products made by these companies when you’re at the store?
Photo credit: thisisbossi via photopin cc