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September 27th, 2012

Why Chia Seeds are All the Rage

Groovy Green Livin Chia Seeds

Yesterday a bag of very expensive organic chia seeds made its way into my grocery cart.  I’m not sure what compelled me to buy them right then and there since I’ve been walking right by them and ignoring them at least twice a week for a long time. I’m not talking about those ch-ch-ch-chia pets, although those really were my first introduction to anything chia. Possibly all of those articles I’ve been reading about the health benefits of chia seeds finally got to me. The chia seeds were calling my name in aisle 9 and here’s why:

Health Benefits of Chia Seeds

  • Chia seeds are mentioned by Christopher McDougall in the book Born to Run. He claims chia seeds are a great addition to an athletes diet-providing extra energy during and after exercise.
  • Chia seeds are very rich in omega-3 fatty acids-even more so than flax seeds and salmon.
  • They are rich in antioxidants
  • One serving size includes 18 percent of recommended daily calcium and four grams of protein
  • They’re low in cholesterol and sodium.
  • There’s been talk that chia seeds aid in weight loss, but the evidence in inconclusive.
  • Chia seeds are packed with fiber, calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, potassium, manganese, copper, iron,  niacin, and zinc. WOW.

Groovy Green Livin organic chia seedsWhat are Chia Seeds?

Chia seeds come from a flowering plant in the mint family. Chia is native to central and southern Mexico and Guatemala. Now chia seeds are becoming popular in the United States and other parts of the world.

How to Use Chia Seeds

I found out very quickly that I’m way behind the eight ball when it comes to using chia seeds. Thankfully I have a wonderful and knowledgeable community of chia seed users on Twitter and Facebook who were happy to share their chia seed concoctions. Here are some of my favorites:

  • Mix 1 dessertspoon of chia seeds with a quarter cup of water to make an egg substitute for baking cakes and cookies. Anna from Green Talk warns that this might dry out the batter.
  • Kathy from Safe Mama makes a pudding by soaking them in almond milk and use it in smoothies. She can’t eat them straight… so she tosses them in salads and sneaks them into her kids quesadilla’s and pancakes.
  • Stephanie from Good Girl Gone Green shared a recipe for Raw Chocolate Chia Seed Pudding from Forks and Beans and a recipe for jam from Healthy Blender Recipes.
  • Robin from Simple. Green. Organic. Happy. sprinkles them on yogurt, add to salads, make jams and compotes.
  • Danika from Your Organic Life puts them in her smoothie every morning.  She says you can mix chia seeds with nut milk to make a raw porriage/oatmeal and add berries on top. You can also mix chia seeds with berries and nut milk to make a pudding.
  • The Cruncy Hippie shares a delicious recipe for Chocolate Chia Pudding!
  • Janice from MommaWords likes to add them to cookies. She also adds chia seeds to the mix she uses to coat her kid’s chicken nuggets.

There were so many more suggestions. Check out my Facebook page to see them all!

How do you like to eat chia seeds? I’ll take any help I can get.

Ground chia seeds | Stock Photo © PixelsAway #7592847

April 11th, 2012

{Giveaway} Organic Earth Day Celebration with Cascadian Farm!

Fresh organic vegetables food on market

On April 22, 2012 more than one billion people around the globe will participate in Earth Day 2012. Earth Day is a day earmarked for action; a chance to show how important the environment is to you.  The message of Earth Day can expand far beyond this one day-it can be a theme carried over into our everyday actions and efforts.

picnic basketIn celebration of Earth Day Cascadian Farm sent me an Earth Day Celebration Kit. It arrived in an awesome picnic basket and included Cascadian Farm products, VIP coupons for free products and recipe ideas, along with an extra kit for a giveaway to one lucky reader of Groovy Green Livin!

Organic feast

It’s baseball season for two of my sons, which translates to being out on a baseball field most nights of the week. Trying to squeeze in a decent meal is somewhat tricky, but with a little planning we are able to stick with our healthy eating habits. In keeping with the tradition of celebrating Earth Day every day, we decided to pick a random night and prepare an organic feast together.

My kids love to cook, so it was relatively easy to get them involved in the process. I’ve learned over the years that when they help out they are more likely to eat the final product. We picked out a few recipes from the recipe booklet that was sent along in the kit. Each recipe used   some of the great products from Cascadian Farm.

Cascadian Farm organic goodiesBuying organic is always the better option. Organic food is free of pesticides and other toxins commonly found in conventional products. It’s not always possible and can be cost prohibitive, but we try to buy organic as much as possible.  It’s also important to remember that organic doesn’t always mean healthy. It’s important to read the ingredients in every product, organic or conventional.

We started off with roasted vegetable pizza

organic goat cheese pizza

Added Spa Smoothies for dessert

Organic spa strawberry smoothie

If you want to join in the fun and create your own organic feast in celebration of Earth day hop on over to the Cascadian Farm Facebook page. You’ll find great recipes, including the pizza and smoothie recipes used in our feast.

GIVEAWAY

Now’s your chance to try out Cascadian Farm products!  One lucky Groovy Green Livin reader will receive their very own picnic basket from Cascadian Farm filled with all sorts of goodies (Value $60!).

The giveaway is now over. Congratulations to Christopher S. and thank you to all who entered!

For another opportunity to win this kit, Tiffany at Nature Moms is also giving one away. Check that out HERE.


a Rafflecopter giveaway

Disclosure: Thank you to Cascadian Farm for a complimentary picnic basket filled with products and coupons in celebration of Earth Day. The opinions expressed in this post are my own.

Photos © benis arapovic, Janine, Jennifer/Flickr

February 14th, 2012

Eggsperiment: CSA Eggs vs. Organic Store Bought Eggs

Organic Eggs

It’s very rare these days to find a morning when we have no plans. This past Sunday was one of those mornings when we were all home with nothing to do. We decided it would be the perfect time for our much anticipated eggsperiment.

What’s an eggsperiment?

We have been part of a CSA for many years and recently opted in to receive half a dozen organic fresh eggs each week directly from the farm. Prior to our CSA we were buying organic eggs mainly from our local Whole Foods Market. We have quite a few friends and family members who have chickens and have been raving about their delicious farm fresh eggs. Chickens are not in our future so our CSA was the way to go if we wanted fresh eggs. It was time to put the eggs to the test and have a family taste off.

Which eggs were better: CSA or organic store bought eggs?

CSA v. Store bought organic eggs

We whipped up two batches of scrambled eggs-each in a separate stainless steel pan. One was chock-full of organic eggs from the farm and the other filled with organic store bought eggs.

Our three boys eagerly sat down at the table to begin the taste test. We suggested blindfolds-that didn’t go over too well.  They promised to close their eyes with no peeking.

The oldest

We started with the oldest.  The first scoop of egg went into his mouth with his eyes shut tight. His two brothers watched him begin to chew-waiting for a comment. He methodically chewed, savoring every bite. Nothing-no comments, no nothing.  He rinsed his mouth with a little water (we decided ahead of time this would make it very official).  Then he took his next bite.  Again, chewing slowly and swallowing.  He opened his big brown eyes and out came a few words in his deceptively deep voice: “These are the farm share eggs” as he pointed to one side of the plate.  He was right.  We decided to pry a little to see if he had made an educated guess or just a plain old guess. He reasoned that they tasted “fresher and juicier”.  Juicier: an interesting choice of words to describe scrambled eggs. He also noted the farm share eggs were brighter in color, had more white specks and were smaller.

The youngest

Our youngest son repeated the process and made many of the same comments. We probably should have put them in separate rooms to keep the eggsperiment official, but that wouldn’t have been any fun.

The middle

The middle guy had no interest in closing his eyes at all.  He just wanted to eat the eggs-and he did. No comment.

The verdict

  • We all voted and the farm share eggs won.
  • The farm share eggs were quite a bit smaller than store bought eggs.
  • The farm eggs were a bit brighter in color than the store bought eggs.
  • The farm share eggs tasted fresher-I’m not sure how to describe this.  I think you will have to have a taste test yourself.

Overall it was a fun and different way to eat eggs together on a Sunday morning.

Why buy organic eggs? To learn more about the non-toxic and great green reasons to buy organic eggs head on over to Practically Green.

Have you done an eggsperiment? Do you buy organic eggs?

October 27th, 2011

Book Review of Eat Non-Toxic: a Manual for Busy Parents

eat non-toxic book coverAs parents, it’s part of our job description to protect our children from harmful chemicals.  Most of us know, all too well, that it’s not an easy job. As we go through our daily lives we are confronted with information overload, pressuring us to buy specific brands –the media, our friends, family-everyone has an opinion.  When it comes to food products the ingredient lists are long and complicated; when it comes to choices the sky’s the limit. How do we sort through it all?  How can we be sure we are making good choices for ourselves and our families?

Katy Farber has written a new e-book, Eat Non-Toxic: a Manual for Busy Parents, to help us navigate through the information and inspire us to create healthy environments for our families. Katy is an author, mother, teacher, and the founder of the well- known blog, Non-Toxic Kids. Her new manual is a guide for busy parents looking to limit their family’s exposure to chemicals and toxins in food and feeding gear.

The book is filled with practical, usable and helpful steps that provide much needed guidance and direction when it comes to protecting your family and the earth from harmful toxins and chemicals. Each chapter is filled with valuable information covering a wide range of topics relating to food and food safety.

A few of my favorite topics are:

  • Find real, practical, and usable tips and ideas feeding your family in a safe and healthy way.
  • Fantastic recipes using whole foods.
  • Learn how to limit toxins in your family’s diet without tremendous cost, effort or time.
  • Why we should eat local, organic and humanely raised meats.
  • Cooking and food storage: why we need to limit or eliminate plastic in the kitchen.

As an added bonus for those of us who are really exhausted and crazy busy, the end of each chapter has the Tired Parents Cliff Notes- a summary of all the important stuff for those of us who need that extra help remembering the highlights (me!).

On sale now

Through Friday (October 28th, 2011), the manual will be priced at 25% off its regular price of 9.99. Click HERE to download the book.

This manual will help you simplify meal times, protect your children from unnecessary toxic exposures, eat healthier and tread lighter on the earth.

Hope you enjoy it as much as I did!

Disclosure: I was given a complimentary copy of this book for review.  There is an affiliate link in this post. Any purchases through the link will put a few pennies in my pocket. The opinions are my very own. Thanks!

 

August 23rd, 2011

Back-to-School Giveaway: Kids Konserve Reusable Lunch Sack

Kids Konserve reusable lunch bag

We still have a few days to go before the school doors open for business and my list of “things to do” continues to grow.  High on the list is investing in a few quality reusables for school lunches. We have quite a few, but after years of wear and tear (think lots of crushed carrots and blueberries) there are a few that are ready to be replaced. If your are in the same boat then this GIVEAWAY could help you out.

Reusable lunch bag giveaway

Reusable lunch sack GIVEAWAY to FIVE (5) Groovy Green Livin Readers

Annie’s HomegrownStonyfield YoKidsHonest Kids, and Seventh Generation have teamed up to help families toss their brown bags this back-to-school season by  generously offering a FREE Kids Konserve lunch sack filled with coupons for FREE products to FIVE (5) lucky readers of Groovy Green Livin.  They are also offering a free Kids Konserve lunch sack with the purchase of participating products through September 30, 2011.

These reusable lunch sacks are washable, made of recycled cotton and eliminate a great deal of waste that would otherwise occur from the use of plastic or paper lunch bags.

How to win

  1. Leave me a comment in the blog comment section below letting me know how you make your lunches eco friendly.
  2. Be sure to include your name (first name and last initial are fine) and email so I can contact you if you win. Anonymous or SPAM-ish comments will be trashed.
  3. You must have a North American shipping address- no PO boxes.
  4. Five lucky winners (drawn randomly via Random.org) will receive a Kids Konserve lunch sack with coupons. The winners will be notified directly via e-mail, and then listed on this post using first name only.
  5. Contest closes at midnight EST, Wednesday, August 30, 2011. Winners will be announced on September 1, 2011. GIVEAWAY IS NOW CLOSED. CONGRATULATIONS TO THE WINNERS: Lisa F., Lisa M., Lynn S., Gina F., Nina M.

For Additional Chances to Win

Please leave separate comments to let me know you have done any of the following:

  1. Subscribe to Groovy Green Livin via RSS feed or Email
  2. ‘Like’ Groovy Green Livin on Facebook
  3. Follow @Groovygreenlivi on Twitter
  4. Tweet about the giveaway tagging @groovygreenlivi
  5. Share the giveaway on Facebook

Full Disclosure: I received a free sample of the Kids Konserve lunch sack. All opinions in this review are my very own.

 

July 11th, 2011

Hot Dog Labels are Misleading

Hot Dog labels misleading

 

Nothing screams America more than hot dogs. In this country we have a deep love for many variations of the traditional hot dog. Chicago is known for its Chicago Style hot dog. There’s the Coney Island hot dog- a New York tradition that my father likes to experience again and again every time we visit NYC. How about those Fenway Franks? Watching the Red Sox play at Fenway wouldn’t be the same without the vendors yelling out “get your haht dahgs heyah”.

For years there’s been talk of the “mystery meat” that makes up a hot dog.  Frankly (pun intended), mystery meat seems appropriate since I don’t think anyone can say with certainty what kind of meat or what part of the animal hot dogs are made from.

With the intention of feeding our children the healthiest of hot dogs, we choose to invest in the $5.99/pack USDA Certified Organic turkey hot dogs. The packaging suggests that the hot dogs are uncured and have no added nitrates or nitrites.

Nitrates and nitrates are in ALL hot dogs-even all natural and organic

While the $5.99/pack organic hot dogs certainly contain healthier ingredients than conventional dogs, they still contain nitrates. According to a recent New York Times article:

Those pricey “natural’”and ‘”organic” hot dogs often contain just as much or more of the cancer-linked preservatives nitrate and nitrite as that old-fashioned Oscar Mayer wiener.

How could this be? The problem is the current processed meat labeling regulations make no sense. The New York Times also says the regulations:

…require products that use preservatives from natural sources to place the words “Uncured” and “No nitrates or nitrites added” on the label even though they are cured and do contain the chemicals.

Huh?

The organic and all natural companies usually use celery powder or celery juice in their processed meats, which are high in nitrate. It is then converted to nitrates or nitrites through a bacterial culture. Once converted it becomes almost identical to synthetic nitrite.

The bottom line: Both conventional and organic or natural hot dogs contain nitrite or nitrates, regardless of what the label says.

Health issues linked to nitrates or nitrites

A study published earlier this year in The Journal of Food Protection found that natural hot dogs had anywhere from one-half to 10 times the amount of nitrite that conventional hot dogs contained.

Nitrates and nitrites give cured meats, like bacon and hot dogs, a pink color and that smoky flavor. They also kill the bacteria that cause botulism.  Nitrite additives in hotdogs form carcinogens. Studies have found that the consumption of hot dogs can be a risk factor for childhood cancer. Nitrates have also been linked to diabetes, heart disease and colon cancer.

The good news

The food companies aren’t to blame. My favorite hot dog company, Applegate Farms, along with other natural food companies, are pushing the federal government for more truthful labeling that would allow them to tell consumers clearly that some products contain nitrates, just from natural rather than synthetic sources.

What you can do

  • Let the USDA know that we want transparency in food labels. We have a right to know what’s in our food.
  • Think twice about eating hot dogs on a regular basis. Just today I was at the supermarket with my kids and they grabbed a few packages of organic hot dogs. For the first time ever, I consciously thought about the number of times we’ve eaten hot dogs over the past few weeks.  Everything in moderation.

Will you think twice about eating hot dogs?

If this post helped you, please share it. And please grab our RSS feed or sign up for free e-mail updates to get more Groovy Green info hot off the press! Thanks!

[Photo used under Creative Commons from The Culinary Geek/Flickr]

June 27th, 2011

Meatless Monday: Start Your Week Meat Free With a Bean and Rice Burrito

Meatless Monday burrito

Back in April I took a pledge to eat meatless every Monday (or at least one day each week) as a simple way to reduce my carbon footprint. I have stuck to it and am busy trying new food combinations and compiling those that have been a big hit. There are many ways to go meatless on Mondays, with one of the easiest being the use of beans as a source of protein.

I’m going out on a limb here. I’m going to share a recipe in honor of  Meatless Monday. I don’t usually share recipes, mainly because I don’t usually follow recipes. I love to cook, but I cook as I go- using whatever we have available.

This is a variation from a recipe taken from Vegetarian Times Complete Cookbook. It’s quick and simple and a big hit with our family.

Bean and Rice Burritos

Sauce

  • 2 cups salt-free tomato sauce
  • 3 cups water
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • 3 tablespoons chilli powder
  • 4 tablespoons cornstarch or arrowroot

Filling

  • 3 cups mashed pinto beans or black beans
  • 2 cups cooked brown rice
  • 1 cup sauteed, chopped scallions (cooked in 1 teaspoon oil over medium -high heat for 5 minutes)
  • 12 whole-wheat tortillas warmed
  • Optional filling ingredients: Stir fried cubed tempeh in soy sauce, sauteed broccoli (my kids love this one), lettuce and shredded cheese.

Sauce: In saucepan, combine all the sauce ingredients and cook, stirring constantly, until the mixture boils and thickens, about 7 minutes

Filling: I generally warm each of the ingredients and place them in separate bowls on the table so everyone can fill their burrito with what they like. Roll up the sauce and ingredients in a tortilla and you have your very own burrito.

Serve with an organic salad and other organic vegetables from the market, your garden or CSA and your Meatless Monday is complete.

Have you given Meatless Monday a try?

What are some of your favorite recipes?

What other sources do you use for finding meatless recipes?

[Photo used under Creative Commons from Michelle Tribe/Flickr]

Disclosure: There is an Amazon affiliate link in this post for the cookbook. If you order the cookbook it will put a few pennies in my pocket!

 

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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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