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Archive for Healthy Living

September 26th, 2014

My Appearance on The Weather Channel: Talking With Your Kids About Climate Change

Groovy Green Livin Lori Alper on The Weather Channel

How I Ended Up on The Weather Channel

One of my favorite things about my job is the unpredictability of each day. Unexpected events pop up all the time, keeping me on my toes. This week I was invited to appear on The Weather Channel, AMHQ with Sam Champion! I’m incredibly grateful to the wonderful team at Moms Clean Air Force (MCAF) for supporting me and recommending me for this incredible opportunity. As many of you know,  I work closely with Moms Clean Air Force as a writer on their site.

I was asked by The Weather Channel to appear in two segments, both of which aired yesterday. In the first segment an asthma specialist was interviewed about the high number of asthma related ER visits in September. I was asked to come up with a few questions for the physician and share stories about what it’s like to raise a child with asthma. I ended up having a very short appearance in this piece.

My big debut came in the second segment, where I had a chance to discuss how to talk about climate change with your kids, and how to raise a responsible child who’s cognizant of how his/her actions affect the environment.

Here’s the clip:

It always amazes me how a half hour interview can be edited down to 2 minutes and 46 seconds! And that was actually long for a segment.

A big thank you to Sam Champion, Maria LaRosa (who is also a mom to 3 boys!) and The Weather Channel for featuring and supporting our growing group of “mom bloggers” (I don’t love that classification, but that’s for a different blog post) and for the willingness to cover important topics such as climate change and the rising rate of children with asthma.

Have a wonderful weekend everyone! 

xo Lori

 


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September 21st, 2014

Why This Mom Cares About the Climate Crisis

Groovy Green Livin People's Climate March

This post was originally published in The Huffington Post

Although I live only a few short hours from New York City, a trip to New York this weekend just isn’t in the cards. I’ll be sticking close to Boston as thousands of people join forces for The People’s Climate March this Sunday, September 21st. It’s being dubbed the “largest climate march in history” by organizers, and has the potential to draw hundreds of thousands of people to the streets of New York City.

Unfortunately I won’t be one of them. Like many, I want to be there, but for one reason or another can’t make it happen. Thankfully, we are so fortunate to live in a world where we no longer have to be physically present to have a big impact. The internet and technology make all of this possible. So on Sunday, while so many amazing people find themselves physically marching in support of a climate crisis I so desperately want to stop, I’ll be following along, sharing and adding to the experience virtually.

Why I Care About the Climate Crisis

My family is unique and yet like so many other families. Every day I celebrate my three boys, since without them I couldn’t wear my treasured “mother” hat.  Creating our family didn’t come easily.  We were forced, as many are, to place a tremendous amount of thought into whether or not we wanted to bring children into this world. Infertility will do that to you. We made a conscious decision to start a family and found our way through both adoption and natural childbirth.

Now here we are-14, 12 and 10 years after making that difficult decision to bring life into this world. A world in which my boys will soon inherit along with a climate that’s spiraling out of control right before our very eyes.

It is implausible to imagine saddling the children of today with the world as it presently exists. Something must be done to repair our planet, and it must be done quickly.

As people flood the streets of New York City this Sunday, September 21st,  for the People’s Climate March I’ll be marching along in spirit, doing my part from afar to show I care deeply about this issue (these are things you can do too).

  • I’ll use my voice on social media to share information and spread the words of the march participants, using the hashtag #PeoplesClimate.
  • I’ll continue writing about the climate crisis we’re all facing.
  • I’ll share photos and create banners with the words: ‘Action, Not Words: …..!’ (add your local, national, or regional demand in dotted area at the end). Photos can be submitted by social media share using #peoplesclimate hashtag or check this link.
  • I’ll continue to talk, create discussion and share perspective with friends, neighbors and colleagues on the issues surrounding climate change.

My boys are starting to understand the complexities of our world, but they are too young to have a voice-or a voice that will be heard and make an impact. As parents it is our job to advocate for our children and protect them from injustice. The People’s Climate March is a perfect opportunity to be a voice among many, stepping up to the plate to make the world a better place for us all.

Will you join me?

photo credit: f_lynx via photopin cc

 

September 18th, 2014

Why Agave is Worse Than High Fructose Corn Syrup

Groovy Green Livin Agave Nectar

For those of you still using agave as a sugar substitute, I have some bad news. But before I break the news to you, I have a confession: I still use agave. It’s in my ketchup and probably a few other places in my kitchen. I fell for the hype, and I know I’m not alone.

No more. It’s time to ditch it. Once the ketchup’s gone agave is no longer welcome in my kitchen. Here’s why.

What is Agave?

Agave nectar (aka agave syrup) comes from the Blue Agaves that grow in the volcanic soils of Southern Mexico. The plants are large, prickly and look like a cactus. The same plant is used to make tequila.

Why We Should Avoid Agave

Most agave nectar or syrup found in the US is actually a highly processed and refined sweetener made from the root of the agave plant. Actually, it turns out that agave is processed in a very similar way to high fructose corn syrup, and has a higher fructose content than any other common sweetener, even more than high fructose corn syrup (HFCS).

Many who once stood behind agave as a sugar substitute are now saying something very different.

Dr. Andrew Weil says:

I’ve stopped using agave myself and no longer recommend it as a healthy sweetener. The reason agave ranks relatively low on the glycemic index is because it has a high content of fructose. Fructose does not readily raise blood sugar (glucose) levels because the body doesn’t metabolize it well. New research suggests that excessive fructose consumption deranges liver function and promotes obesity. The less fructose you consume, the better.

As it turns out, agave has a higher fructose content than any other common sweetener, more even than high fructose corn syrup (HFCS)

Agave is made through a chemically intensive process, including the use of genetically modified enzymes. It’s basically high-fructose corn syrup (or worse!) disguised as a health food.

What Should We Use Instead of Agave?

There are a few natural sweeteners that are on my ‘A’ list.

Raw Honey

Honey is at the top of my sweetener list. If honey isn’t for you, check out my top three natural sweeteners HERE.

It’s important to remember that sugar is sugar. It can be disguised in may ways on a food label, but it’s all sugar. Sugar is hiding everywhere: cane sugar, beet sugar, High Fructose Corn Syrup, glucose, agave. There are over 50 names for sugar.

What’s your go-to sweetener?

 


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: Kelly Sue via photopin cc

September 16th, 2014

Sports Drinks and the Message We’re Sending Our Kids

Groovy Green Livin sports drinks

Back to school means back to sports for many families across the country.

Along with sports comes sports drinks. With bright and enticing colors, they’ve become the go-to drink for players of every sport.

Who can blame a budding athlete? Sports drinks are marketed as a way for athletes to” re-fuel” during a game or competition.  They “provide fuel, fluid and nutrients before, during and after activity.”

Even if your child doesn’t play a team sport there’s no shortage of sports drinks. You’ll find them at birthday parties and in lunch and snack bags.

A fantastic marketing campaign has led us to believe that those sports drinks are nutritious as well as delicious. But the ingredient list on most sports drinks is far from healthy.

There’s a small amount of good news for fans of sports drinks 

After a big dose of consumer pressure, Gatorade removed the controversial brominated vegetable oil (BVO)-patented as a flame retardant that’s been banned in Europe and Japan- from all of its sports drinks. Yes, there was a flame retardant in Gatorade not too long ago.

Also, sports drinks are caffeine free, unlike energy drinks which are loaded with caffeine.

Unfortunately, there’s not much more good news for sports drinks.

What’s really in sports drinks?

Sports drinks are touted as healthy and nutritious, but their ingredient list tells a different story.

Here’s a sample ingredient list from a big sports drink company:

WATER, ISOMALTULOSE, SUGAR,DEXTROSE, MALTODEXTRIN, CITRIC ACID, NATURAL FLAVOR, XANTHAN GUM,SALT, SODIUM CITRATE,MONOPOTASSIUM PHOSPHATE, YELLOW 5, NIACINAMIDE, CALCIUM PANTOTHENATE, YELLOW 6,PYRIDOXINE HYDROCHLORIDE (VITAMIN B6)

Remember the rule: If you can’t pronounce it, don’t eat (or drink) it.

After water the first 4 ingredients are sugar! Sugar is sugar, regardless of its name.

  • Isomaltulose=sugar
  • Sugar=sugar
  • Dextrose=sugar
  • Maltodextrin=sugar

And when asked why there are artificial colors (Yellow 5 & 6) in their products, they responded with this:

The colors in Gatorade provide visual appeal and help reinforce the flavor perception. They are also useful in helping our customers to quickly locate their favorite flavors as well as helping stock clerks group the flavors correctly on the store shelf. The colors used in Gatorade are certified by the FDA for use in beverages and reviewed for safety to the consumer.”

Pretty lame excuses for adding artificial coloring.

Why are doctors and nutritionists recommending sports drinks? 

I’m somewhat baffled by this one. Many seem to be taking the position that these sports drinks are replenishing your body with necessary nutrients after a workout. While I do understand the need to replenish your body with necessary nutrients, I’m just not convinced sports drinks provide the best way. They are filled with loads of sugar, artificial coloring, plus a long list of other ingredients that are difficult to pronounce. These sports drinks are adding unnecessary calories to our children’s diets-adding to the obesity epidemic.

Clearly this isn’t real food….or drink.

Maybe it’s time to focus on sending our kids a better message?

Why aren’t we, as a society and as parents, suggesting that our children drink water. Gasp. Yes, water. So simple, low calorie and just one pronounceable ingredient.

What are your thoughts on sports drinks? Do your kids drink them? No judgment, would just love to get the conversation going.

 


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: Steve Snodgrass via photopin cc

September 12th, 2014

Air Purifier Review: Alen BreatheSmart FIT50

Groovy Green Livin Alen BreatheSmart FIT50 HEPA Air Purifier

With winter almost knocking on our door I can’t help but think about how all the windows and doors in my home will soon be sealed tightly to keep the cool air out and the warm air in. Along with the cool temps and sealed up homes comes a big concern: indoor air pollution.

We generally think of air pollution as an outdoor problem, but our indoor air can be polluted too. Indoor air pollution can come from many different sources including tobacco products, oil, gas, coal and wood, building materials, couches, carpets, cleaning products and more.

How you can improve your indoor air quality: BreatheSmart FIT50

If you’re looking for a simple way to improve your indoor air quality, try adding a few indoor house plants.

Another easy way to remove contaminants from the air is to use an air purifier.  I’ve tried several air purifiers over the years and have never found one that made much of a difference- until now.

I was sent a BreatheSmart FIT50 made by the Alen Corporation for review. When the box showed up I was a bit surprised by the size of the unit (it’s W16.75″ x H22.25″ x D10″), but once it was out of the box its sleek look won me over.

Groovy Green Livin Alen BreatheSmart FIT50 HEPA Air Purifier

The BreatheSmart FIT50 HEPA Air Purifier just launched over the summer and I’m pretty impressed with what it has to offer.

  • Covers up to 800 sq. ft. on high
  • Is extremely quite when running
  • Has 4 fan speeds and an timer that can be set
  • A filter change indicator light-no more trying to remember when you need to change the filter!
  • A HEPA filter that captures dust, allergens and other pollutants

This air purifier has two features that really make it stand out from other air purifiers I’ve tried out. One of my favorite features is the ability to change the look of the front panel-there are several color designer panels to choose from.

Our entire family agreed that the coolest feature is the colored light around the power button.

Groovy Green Livin Alen BreatheSmart FIT50 HEPA Air Purifier

There are three different light colors and each has a meaning:

  • Blue: Low quantity of airborne particles detected
  • Yellow: Moderate quantity of airborne particles detected
  • Red: Significant quantity of airborne particles detected

When we first began using the air purifier the light was consistently red. I tried moving the unit around to different rooms in the house and all came up red!

After using the BreatheSmart FIT50 for a few weeks I’ve noticed a big difference in the air quality. The light has switched from red to yellow. Phew! This time of year my fall allergies kick in big time and I’m not sneezing as much as in past years.

Bottom Line on the BreatheSmart FIT50 Air Purifier

Overall I really like this air purifier. It’s a bit larger than units I’ve used in the past, but it’s extremely quiet when running. The air quality in the house seems to have improved-there is less sneezing and the indicator light changed color, indicating less airborne particles. The true test is yet to come once our house is closed up for winter. The air purifier is on the pricier side, coming in at $499.00.

Do you use an air purifier?

Disclosure: I did receive an Alen BreatheSmart Fit50 for review. I was neither paid for your review, nor am I employed by Alen Corporation. All opinions are my own.

September 9th, 2014

The Truth About Candy Sold in America

Groovy Green Livin Candy

 

Wondering why the candy in America might seem just a bit brighter in color than it’s sweet cousin in Europe? The answer might surprise you.  Many candy companies in the US use artificial food coloring for the candy they sell and distribute in the United States, but that same candy sold in Europe gets its coloring from natural sources.

I have to admit, peanut M&M’s are my weakness. Especially frozen. But after looking at the long list of artificial food dyes in those delicious candies I’m ready to take my indulgence elsewhere: COLORING (INCLUDES BLUE 1 LAKE, RED 40, YELLOW 6, YELLOW 5, BLUE 1, RED 40 LAKE, BLUE 2 LAKE, YELLOW 6 LAKE, YELLOW 5 LAKE, BLUE 2).

You won’t find those color additives in European M&M’s.

Why are companies selling safer candy in Europe than they are in the US?

According to Michael Jacobson, Executive Director of The Center for Science in the Public Interest:

“There’s been evidence for almost 40 years that food dyes trigger hyperactivity or inattention in children. About six years ago, the British government sponsored studies that found exactly that, so they urged food companies in Britain to replace synthetic dyes with natural colorings or no added colorings, and many British companies switched over. And then the European Union passed a law requiring that any food that contained the dyes used in those two British studies would have to put a warning notice on, warning consumers that the dyes might trigger hyperactivity. And so with the threat of a warning label, it’s really hard to find these synthetic dyes.”

Here’s what a warning label in Europe would say:  “May have an adverse effect on activity and attention in children.” We have no such warning label in the US.

What’s shocking to me is that these companies are clearly able to remove dangerous artificial food dyes from their products and have done so in other countries, yet they’re not willing to remove them from products sold in America. What does this say about how they value the lives of American children?

The FDA isn’t helping either. They continue to take the position that more research is needed before they make any decisions about artificial food dyes.

What you can do

  • READ LABELS: In America all food labels must spell out which artificial food dyes are used in a product. If you see ingredients such as Red 40, Yellow 6 and Blue 1 (or any other color with a number after it) steer clear. Read your labels very carefully so you can make an educated decision about the food you buy. 
  • SUPPORT COMPANIES that don’t use artificial food dye. Let your dollars do the talking!
  • SIGN THIS PETITION on Change.org asking Mars, the maker of M&M’s candies, to stop coloring its products with petroleum-based artificial food dyes.

How do you feel about companies selling products in America with harmful ingredients that they’ve voluntarily removed in other countries? 

 


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photo credit: SlipStreamJC via photopin cc

September 5th, 2014

Writing for The Huffington Post and Other Groovy Green Updates

Groovy Green Livin Huffington Post

This week The Huffington Post in partnership with NRG launched a new section called Generation Change. This launch is very exciting for many reasons, but one that is super exciting.

Writing for The Huffington Post

My BIG news: I’m going to be writing for this new section of The Huffington Post! My first post went live this week: How Climate Change Could Affect Your Breakfast. I’m thrilled to be a part of this exciting and important addition to an already fabulous publication.

This new HuffPo section is dedicated to creating awareness of and fostering a conversation around climate change and clean energy with the goal of preserving our planet. It will explore everything from clean technology options for homes and businesses to breakthroughs in climate legislation and the latest developments at the forefront of renewable energy.

Through a mix of news articles, slideshows and instructive content about sustainability, along with opinion pieces from thought leaders on the topics of climate and energy policy, Generation Change will be a prime resource for educating readers about the realities of global warming and the importance and impact of our individual choices, as well as those of society as a whole.
I would love for you to check it out and comment if you feel up to it. Better yet, if you’re on social media please give it a share!

Here’s a Tweet for you:

Featured on everydayhero

I’m also honored to be featured on everydayhero, a company that helps people give back to causes they are passionate about. everydayhero, it is an online platform that helps people fundraise for any cause they choose. The platform is integrated with MapMyFitness, VolunteerMatch, Facebook and Twitter, so that people can see how everything they do (fun for charity, volunteer at the SPCA, share their stories on social) contribute to and count towards giving to a cause. All this information is calculated into your Giving Footprint that grows with your activities over time.

Stay tuned for more from me on The Huffington Post.

And while you’re waiting have a fabulous weekend! Any big plans?

~Lori

 


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: IllinoisLibrary 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. I hope you'll join me as I embark on a journey to live a healthy life. Along the way I might make a few pit stops to fight for issues that affect the health and safety of our families. Come along with me as I work hard to make the world a little safer for each of us. Together we'll discover that simple, small changes can lead to a healthier lifestyle and a greener planet.

Click HERE to contact Lori

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Lori on ABC World News

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