It has been gradual, but over the last couple years we’ve been making small changes toward reducing waste – inspired by the Zero Waste Family and the fact that after an entire year they only produced one mason jar full of trash (if you can believe that!). I am the first to admit that we will likely never even come close to such an accomplishment, but I immediately recognized that we could do much better than a big trash bag full of garbage every few days.
We’ve all heard that we should Reduce, Reuse and Recycle, but my favorite “R” is actually one I just learned about recently and that is to REFUSE. Say “no, thank you” to the free pen at the trade show or hotel, stop entering those raffle contests, and don’t buy any more cheap plastic toys that you know your child will forget about in 2.4 seconds! Already being a type-A “purger” at heart, this motto has really hit home with me. I strive to have all our rooms and closets clean and neatly organized, but guess what – I would have to spend a lot less time doing that cleaning and organizing if we had less unnecessary stuff! So I am doing my best to stop those garbage bags full of unnecessary trash and Goodwill offerings before they even happen.
So in light of this new motto (and Earth Day today!) here are 10 ways we’re working to “reduce” our footprint that others can easily adopt:
- Cloth Napkins.
Ditching paper napkins was something I considered for a long time before I actually did it. Then once we made the switch (and I realized how easy it was!), I couldn’t believe I had waited so long. The first step for me was to clear out a drawer in the kitchen to store our new cloth napkins (they take up a lot more room than a little stack of paper ones). So I finally dedicated a day to getting rid of more unnecessary stuff, ordered some attractive napkins that didn’t appear to hold too many wrinkles (because I knew ironing them was an unrealistic expectation), and came up with a new routine. We decided we didn’t need a “fresh” napkin every single meal so in-between uses we just hang our colorful new napkins on the back of our chairs. I also created a new spot in the laundry room for the dirty ones that I just add to a load of laundry as needed. Continue Reading »
The giveaway winner has been chosen…
Congratulations to “Molly” whose comment said:
“Try and try and try again. My 2 1/2 year old is finally starting to eat one or two bites of carrots. There are literally no veggies he eats! Thanks for the great giveaway.”
Check your email Molly for prize details!
Winning over your picky eater is no new topic on this blog, but it’s something that many parents continue to struggle with day after day. So this is why I am super excited to share some new healthy eating tips with you straight from two experts in the field (and both sponsors of our blog)! Cai Dixon, co-creator of the Copy-Kids DVD, and Kia Robertson, creator of the Today I Ate A Rainbow kit, have both created award-winning yet simple resources that get kids interested in – and eating! – their fruits and veggies. Both Cai and Kia are fellow moms who feel passionate about helping other parents overcome the typical struggles they face when trying to get their children to eat a varied diet. Be sure to check out the contest details at the bottom because both of them are generously giving away one of their products along with a $100 Whole Foods (or alternate grocery store) gift card!
First Off, Set the Tone:
- Be Flexible
What does flexibility look like? It will vary from household to household. Here is what flexibility looks like in my home:
My 5-year-old took a bath first thing when she woke up today. I figured out a few years ago that coupling happy bath-time play with a meal was an excellent way to get her to eat more. First she started with a banana. Then she asked for a second banana. Then I set a divided plate on a low stool next to the tub. The plate contained red cabbage, cauliflower, celery & a cherry tomato – each in its own compartment, because she doesn’t like things to touch. And she ate them all. Yep, veggies for breakfast! Continue Reading »
There are a lot of these “foods to avoid” lists floating around the internet I so was inspired to make a list of my own.
Highly Processed Foods and Ingredients to Avoid:
- Artificial ingredients
This includes both synthetic dyes (like FD&C Red No. 40, Tartrazine, or Blue No. 1) and artificial sweeteners (like saccharin, aspartame, or sucralose). When you look at the history of food artificial ingredients haven’t been around all that long, and I don’t know about you, but I am not interested in being the guinea pig here. Plus the fact that artificial dyes require a warning label in many countries outside of the U.S. is enough of a deal breaker for me.
Instead: Look for dyes that come from natural sources (like paprika, saffron, or annatto) or forget the coloring all together (it’s only for aesthetics). When it comes to sweeteners pick those that come from natural sources (like honey, maple syrup, and even sugar) over the artificial stuff, but always consume them in moderation (see #2).
- Refined sweeteners
It’s not that refined sweeteners themselves (like sugar) are the devil, but the quantity in which sweeteners are consumed these days is honestly the scary part. Sugar (or corn syrup or cane juice or brown rice syrup or whatever creative name is on the label) is no longer reserved for truly special occasions anymore, and instead is lurking in yogurts, breads, crackers, flavored oatmeal, beverages, and even innocent-looking salad dressings.
Instead: Rely on natural sweeteners like honey and maple syrup since they are mostly “processed” in nature and at least contain some trace nutrients. BUT it’s important to remember that “sugar is sugar” no matter what you choose. So even if you go the more natural route (which is recommended!) that by no means gives you the green light to turn up the bottle. It’s also helpful to buy foods “plain” (like yogurt, oatmeal, etc.) and sparingly sweeten them yourself to make sure things don’t get out of hand.
- Refined grains
This includes products made from white flour (usually labeled as enriched “wheat” flour), white rice, corn meal, etc. When grains are refined the most nutritional part of the grain (the bran and germ) is removed. This prolongs shelf life among other things, but remember…real food should (and does!) rot so avoid the science experiment and stick to the whole grains provided to us by nature.
Instead: Give up the white stuff and rely on nutritious whole-grains like whole-wheat flour, oats, brown rice, quinoa, and others. Continue Reading »
I hear from readers quite frequently who would like to cut out processed food, but are feeling overwhelmed and don’t know where to start. The key thing to remember is that small changes can go a long way – cutting out processed food doesn’t have to be all or nothing! So to help you get off on the right foot this New Year below are 5 easy changes you can implement this month. In fact EVERYONE could start #1 today. It’s easy, it’s free, and it’s all about awareness. Pick 1 or 2 items from this list and commit to starting them this week. Once you’ve got those items down move on to the others, and before you know it some of these changes will become your “new normal.”
Speaking of getting off on the right foot this New Year I also want to introduce you to our meal planning sponsor, The Fresh 20! It’s no secret that it can take more time to plan and cook real food day in and day out, but a service like The Fresh 20 can really take some of the weight off your shoulders. Each week they send you 5 unprocessed dinner recipes that you can make from 20 fresh ingredients. For only $5/month the budget-friendly recipes include an organized shopping list, and you can choose from their Classic, Vegetarian, or Gluten-Free plan. If you are already a member of The Fresh 20 we’d love for you to share your feedback in the comments below! Continue Reading »
The holidays are a special time when we focus on family, celebration, thoughtfulness…and of course food! And while it’s completely appropriate to indulge in some fun treats this time of year, I personally don’t think you have to have loads of junk food for it to be a good time. So on that note, and thanks to a little brainstorming session with my facebook fans, here are some holiday party ideas for kids that are not centered around cookies and candy. I promise our children don’t “need” those things to have a little fun with their friends and make some memories! Please share your party ideas in the comments below.
Healthy Holiday Parties (for kids and schools!)
- Book Swap and Pajama Party
Each student can wear pajamas to school and also bring a wrapped (new or gently used) book to “swap” with another student. The teacher or a special guest can choose one book to read to the class.
- Cards that Give Back
Using supplies like paper, markers, glue, buttons, and glitter the students can decorate holiday cards (or ornaments) for those who may be away from home during the holidays (children in hospitals, adults in nursing homes, or soldiers overseas). Continue Reading »
I touched on the subject of Advent calendars last year, but today I want to expand on the topic by including a detailed list. I like lists. As I mentioned our Advent house (which I bought at Target a few years ago by the way) was once filled with little pieces of highly processed candy, gum, chocolate, etc. I used to even let my girls open the doors and eat the junk before breakfast. This was just three years ago…wow, have times changed!
So anyway, I moved away from the candy for obvious reasons, and started going on these intense retail hunts looking for little toys that were tiny enough to fit behind those doors. This was no easy task, and to top it off that stuff really was just “junk” too since they were mainly little plastic items made in China that our children quickly forgot about or lost. So I no longer feel like racing around town and spending time/money on little knickknacks our kids honestly do not need. And I also don’t feel it’s necessary to fill this little house with organic less-junky candy (that is still candy by the way) during an already sugary time of year.
So inspired by This Lunch Rox, below is the official list for our newly renamed “Giving House.” And the criteria for these ideas were basically random acts of kindness that you could perform without having to go somewhere special (like a shelter or hospital). Of course going to such places on a regular basis would be fabulous in an ideal world, but I know how it is around the holidays so I personally did not want to over-commit during an already busy time! Continue Reading »