I don’t know about you, but making kids’ lunches everyday can get VERY repetitive and boring. I know in my house, I tend to always steer to the same things, which is usually a gluten free sandwich, carrots and celery, apples, soaked almonds, roasted plantains, and a very small treat. I did this for 2 months straight. My kids were positively bored of eating the same thing… I noticed that more food was coming back home in the lunch boxes rather than being eaten at school. That’s when I knew I needed to start getting more creative in coming up with my kids lunch ideas. So of course that led me to one place… yep, PINTEREST!! I wasn’t disappointed either. I got so many ideas that now I am stocked with ideas for making my kids’ lunches more fun, and I am going to share them with you!
Now my kids have a fun lunchbox called a PlanetBox. It’s kind of bento style and made of stainless steel and comes with stainless steel containers and a nice carrying case that you can put an ice pack in and a thermos. I just love it, and my kids are in their second school year using it. As a mom I think it’s very important for us to gravitate towards more economical ways of packing your kids’ lunches. Before investing in the Planet box, my husband and I would buy new lunch boxes every year, and go through a TON of sandwich bags, snack bags etc. Those things do add up, not only in our budget but in our landfills too.
Back to the lunches, I’ll break these kids lunch ideas it into sections: main, sides, and treats to make it easy. Just remember one of the best ways to get the MOST out of your children’s food is to do your best to make it organic. This will help you feel good that their food will have fewer pesticides, no GMO’s and adequate nutrients!
Kids Lunch Ideas: Organic Main Dishes
- Yogurt – A container of organic, high fat, low sugar yogurt, you can even add raw honey or stevia to sweeten naturally. For sides you can pack granola, and or bars to sprinkle or dip along with pretzels, strawberries and grapes or any fruit.
- Bacon and Eggs – This is one of my kids’ favorite. Bacon slices, hard boiled eggs, sliced avocado.
- Pancakes/Waffle sandwiches – When I make my daughter gluten free pancakes in the morning I double the batch and use them for lunch too. I make the kids sandwiches out of pancakes instead of bread. They love it and you can do so much. Blueberry pancakes make a yummy PB&J sandwich! You can also make a yummy savory sandwich, adding bacon/sausage and eggs!
- “Sushi” – This is a fun one. Take your nitrate free sliced meats, and roll up whatever you want in them (cheese, sliced veggies, cream cheese, sprouts etc) and slice them in 1 inch sections and they look like “sushi”. Another fun one is to use organic soft shell tortillas and roll up nut butters and jelly.
- Salad – My daughter requests salads once in awhile. I like to add chunked up meat or tuna for some protein and the veggies I know she will eat. I always give her a little container of organic ranch dressing so she can add it herself.
- Leftovers – This is a wonderful idea, and I do this often. My kids’ favorite leftovers to take in their lunch are: meatloaf, meatballs, tacos, homemade pizzas. The sky’s the limit!
- Soup – If your kids have one of those soup thermoses then soup is a very nourishing lunch, especially if it’s homemade. You can also find good organic soups online if you don’t have time to make soup.
- Sandwiches – They come in all shapes sizes. Make them fun! Cut them in different shapes, this is especially fun for the younger ones. There are many yummy gluten free bread options too. Try using different breads: bagels, sliced, rolls, and even lettuce!
- Jerky – For a main dish may sound silly, but it’s another favorite of my kids. We make our Jerky homemade but there are also some good organic jerky options available online as well.
Kids Lunch Ideas: Organic Sides:
- Fresh Fruit – apples, oranges, kiwi, pineapple slices, melons, berries, etc.
- Fresh Vegetables – cucumber, carrots, peppers, celery, snap peas, etc.
- Crackers – rice, wheat, multi grain, etc.
- Granola bars or you can make at home using this organic granola recipe.
- Dried fruits
- Chips – potato and corn.
Kids Lunch Ideas: Organic Treats & Beverages:
- Sweet treats – I only add one very small sweet treat to my kids’ lunches. I like to make these gluten free cookies, but make them half the size for my kids’ lunches. I would much rather have them get full on the “good stuff” rather than the sweets. Here are some fun store bought options:
- Hugga Bear cookies
- Annie’s cookies
- Dark chocolate bars (a square or two will do)
- Newman’s Own Cookies
- Laughing Giraffe treats
- Beverages – My kids have a thermos and they always get spring water, and they do not complain about it. They know the importance of drinking water. I’m a NO JUICE momma, so I strongly suggest you buy your kids a thermos and give them good ol’ water too. Sugar even in organic juices is hard on their little systems and they can actually be dehydrating for them. Water is best!
I could go on and on, but I think I will stop here. I hope this helps give you some new ideas about your kids’ lunches and how to make them a bit healthier and fun. Remember, mix and match, get creative, adjust what you need to fit your personal lifestyle and the sky’s the limit! What is your kids’ favorite homemade lunch? What are some kids lunch ideas you’ve come up with?
Awhile back I wrote about the many benefits of apple cider vinegar. Today I’m going to give you a list of actual ways to use this wonderful stuff! Just remember the most important thing is that your apple cider vinegar is raw, organic and unfiltered and unpasteurized, this will assure you are getting the best quality. Bragg’s apple cider vinegar is my go-to brand.
Cleaning with Apple Cider Vinegar
1. Clean Counters and Surfaces
Use undiluted apple cider vinegar, right from the bottle, on counter-tops and other surfaces in your kitchen. This will disinfect them and leave them smelling super fresh and apple scented.
2. All-purpose Cleaner
Add 1/2 c apple cider vinegar to 1 c of water to a 16oz spray bottle. This is great for cleaning countertops, windows and even mirrors.
3. Floor Cleaner
1 part apple cider vinegar to 1 part water in a spray bottle will clean your kitchen floors. Spray on hard surfaces and wipe off with a rag or mop.
4. Produce Bath
To clean your produce of all those chemicals fill up your sink with water and pour about 1 cup of apple cider vinegar. Add your produce and let sit 5-10 minutes. This is clean your produce and rid them of nasty pesticides.
Pour a little in your dishwasher. This helps remove soap scum and will make your dishwasher last longer. It also has a nice smell when you open it up. Kind of a faint apple scent.
6. Wooden Furniture
Dusting your wood furniture, all you need to do is make a 50 x 50 mix of water and apple cider vinegar and add it to a mist bottle. Any wooden furniture you polish with this mixture will look great!
7. No Chemicals Drain-O
Use an apple cider vinegar, baking soda and salt mix to clean and deodorize partially blocked drains. Mix 1/2 cup of salt and 1/2 cup of baking soda into a bowl and pour down the drain. Next, pour in 1/2 a cup of vinegar. The apple cider vinegar and baking soda will react with each other giving off harmless carbon dioxide gas. After 2-3 hours flush with water.
8. Fruit Fly Killer
I don’t know about you, but I dread when those pesky fruit flies make their appearance during the summertime, always hovering over the fruit in our house. Using apple cider vinegar is by far my favorite remedy (and most effective one I have tried) to get rid of them. Put half a cup of apple cider vinegar in a glass jar. Place Saran Wrap over the top of a jar and put a rubber band/tape around it to make it tight. Take a toothpick and poke several holes in the saran wrap. Place in the area you’re having the problem.
Use Apple Cider Vinegar for Beauty & Personal use
9. Tummy Help
Prevent and aid in healthy digestion. Take 1 tsp. of apple cider vinegar in a glass of water (add a little stevia or honey to taste) and drink 15-30 minutes before meals. You can also do this after eating if you forgot to take it before
10. Bye-Bye Bad Breath
Due to its wonderful acidic properties, apple cider vinegar makes a wonderful remedy for bad breath or halitosis. Simply add 1/2 tablespoon of ACV into a cup of water and gargle the mixture in your mouth for 10 seconds at a time until the cup is empty.
11. Yeast Be-Gone
Apple cider vinegar is a very effective in treating yeast infections. Add 1 and a half cups of ACV into a bathtub filled with warm water, and then soak in it for about 20 minutes. This should be done once a day for the first 3 days of the infection.
12. Freshen Mouth
Gargle with apple cider vinegar in the mornings. The vinegar helps remove stains, whiten teeth, and kill bacteria in your mouth and gums. Brush as usual after you gargle.
Apple cider vinegar can be used as a rinse for your hair after shampooing, helps to detangle and will boost your hair’s body and shine. Fill an old bottle with 1/2 a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar and a cup of cold water. Pour the solution through your hair after shampooing several times a week for better results. I also put 1 tablespoon of ACV into a small spray bottle of water to use as a natural detangled.
14. Soothes Sunburns
Add a cup of apple cider vinegar to your bath, and soak for 10 minutes to eliminate discomfort from sunburn. You can also apply directly to lightly sunburned skin using a cotton ball using part ACV part water.
For a natural skin toner which helps acne and firming up the skin. Mix equal parts of ACV and water and store in the refrigerator. After shower use a cotton ball and apply like you would any facial toner. Don’t be alarmed that vinegar smell disappears quickly… If you want you can add a few drops of essential oil to the toner to give it a better smell. Just stay away from citrus oils on the skin.
16. Relaxing Bath
Have sore or aching muscles? Soothe in a relaxing bath by mixing 1-2 cups of ACV in your bathwater. Add some peppermint or lavender oil for a nice pleasant scent. I like to take a bath after snowboarding or playing softball. Really helps soothes the muscles and very relaxing too!
Apple Cider Vinegar and a Healthier You
17. Combat Sore Throat
Feel a sore throat coming on. Gargle apple cider vinegar right when you feel that little tickle sneaking up. I would do this 3x a day until symptoms disappear.
18. No More Warts
Apple cider vinegar is also a natural way to remove warts. For warts, soak a cotton ball in apple cider vinegar, then fasten the cotton ball over the wart with a Band-Aid overnight. The skin may swell some as it reacts with the solution. However, the wart will fall off. Once it falls off, the treatment should be continued for a few more days, to make sure the wart doesn’t return.
19. Weight loss
Helps aid in weight loss. Apple Cider Vinegar helps to break down fats so that your body can use them rather than store them. For this reason, many diets include ACV in the regimen. For daily weight management, add about 2 teaspoons of apple cider vinegar to 16 ounces of water. This concoction can be sipped throughout the day. My husband lost around 10 pounds in a 6 month period by adding this to his daily routine. He started out with 1 tsp and worked himself up to 2 tsp.
20. Lower Blood Pressure
Some studies suggest that the acetic acid in Apple Cider Vinegar may help lower blood pressure. ACV may help increase production of the blood vessel relaxing compound nitric oxide. It may also help inhibit enzymes that cause the blood vessels to constrict. For blood pressure lowering effects, take 2-6 TBSP a day in water is the usual recommendation.
* Apple cider vinegar should always be diluted when using internally or topically to the skin (especially with individuals and children with sensitive skin).
How do you incorporate apple cider vinegar into your daily routine? Please share any of your favorite ACV uses!
Yes! You CAN have dessert!! Despite whichever weight loss or healthy living resolutions you’ve made for yourself this New Years, you should never feel as though you’re depriving yourself. Sometimes that feeling alone can lead to unwanted binge eating or giving up on a healthy diet altogether. It’s time to get out of that mind set and realize that it is OKAY to have a little dessert, especially if it’s healthy dessert! A healthy dessert is not going to make you feel depressed after eating it, or make your kids bounce off the wall. Been there, done that. It’s time to start avoiding the cookie and candy aisles, and take making healthy desserts into your own hands. When you make your own healthy desserts you know exactly what ingredients are in them. And knowing what’s in your desserts is such a better feeling than eating highly processed sweets like high fructose corn syrups, enriched flours and trans fats!
The healthy desserts I am going to list for you are some that I have come up with on my own and some recipes that I love from various websites. All of which I or my family has personally loved. I also like to keep sugar out of my house. I mostly use Stevia, Raw local honey and Maple syrup, as sweeteners in our home.
You can modify all of these healthy dessert recipes to meet you and your family’s needs. We are gluten free in my home so I always swap my recipes with an organic gluten free flour, so please feel free to change things up and make it your own!
Healthy Dessert Recipes
Quinoa Chocolate Chip Cookies
- 2 cups cooked quinoa (cooled, you can also try a different grain like Millet)
- 1/2 cup peanut butter (or any other nut butter of your choice)
- 1/4 tsp. Pink Himalayan sea salt
- 3/4 cup almond flour (you can use GF oats also )
- 3 tbsp. pure maple syrup. I added a few drops of liquid stevia also, adjust to your sweetness.
- 1/2 cup chocolate or carbo chips
- 1/2 cup unsweetened coconut flakes
Preheat oven to 350. Mix all ingredients except the last two with mixer until blended then stir in coconut and chocolate chips. Drop by tbsp. on parchment lined cookie sheet and bake 20 min. Cool completely before storing!
When I made them they tasted like macaroons and my kids loved them for breakfast!
2 Ingredient Ice-cream
- 4-5 medium frozen bananas (peeled, break into chunks)
- 1/4 cup of nut butter
Take your frozen bananas and throw them in your Vitamix, blender or food processor. Scoop in the nut butter of your choice, I’ve used peanut butter and almond butter and they both tasted great! If you have a Vita-Mix, it takes less than a minute to make, just remember to press the mixture down with your tamper. And that’s all it takes! My kids beg me for this “ice-cream” and I just love it. Sometimes I throw in some cacao powder for a chocolate version.
Double Chocolate “Cupcakes”
- 1/2 cup almond meal/flour
- 1/4 cup raw cacao powder
- 1 tsp. baking powder
- 2 eggs
- 1 tsp. vanilla
- 1/2 cup milk (I used homemade coconut milk for this recipe)
- 1/4 cup coconut oil melted (ghee is also wonderful with these)
- 1/4 cup raw honey (I used 2 tablespoons raw honey and 1/4 tsp stevia)
Preheat oven to 350. Combine dry ingredients then add in wet ingredients, mix well. Add in a few dark chocolate chips or carbo chips if desired. Pour into a greased cupcake pan (or use liners) and fill 2/3′s full (will make about 7 regular cupcakes) then in the oven at 350 for around 20 minutes. Top with frosting for cupcakes or my kids had them with coconut oil and almond butter for breakfast.
My favorite healthy dessert recipe links:
- Chocolate Covered Katie – I just adore her site. I have made countless recipes from her and they all have been wonderful. The recipes are vegan, but you can make them fit your needs. Trust me you will LOVE them!
- Healthy Homemade Chocolate – This is my go-to chocolate recipe. I changed mine up a bit. I use stevia as my sweetener, but my kids prefer the honey. I also use raw cacao powder for some that extra super food boost.
- Nourishing Traditions “Macaroons“- Have you read the book Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon (one of my hero’s)? If you haven’t you are missing out. This recipe is wonderful, love that I can have macaroons, without that overly sweet taste.
- Mint Chocolate Chip Kefir Ice-Cream – Who ever thought of a probiotic ice cream?! I’m all for an ice cream rich in natural whole food ingredients and one that is going to be easy on the tummy!
- Glazed Chocolate Donut Holes – Hands down these are my kids absolute favorite right now. They are so happy that mom found a healthy donut for them!
- Almond Joy Chocolate Chunk Cookies – I wrote this blog a while back, but this is still a family favorite!
I hope now you feel better knowing that you can still have dessert, just with a little touch of healthy, can’t go wrong with that! What are your favorite healthy desserts?
I have never been all that good at making New Year’s resolutions and sticking with them. In my younger years I always seemed to fail at them, then again when I look back at the resolutions I made when I was in my teens and 20′s, most of them were weight loss based and very unrealistic. If I didn’t see results after two weeks, I’d be done. Now that I’m in my mid 30′s my outlook on what resolutions to make and how to keep them is much different. To this day I don’t know many people who have ever really stuck or actually completed their New Year’s resolutions. If you have then I sincerely applaud you! What I find works best for me is creating smaller goals throughout the year. Goals that are realistic for me, and writing them down is key (did you know that people who write down there goals are 90% more likely to stick to them? It’s true). So get your pen and paper out and start a small list of attainable goals.
New Year’s goals and resolutions for eating healthy this year!
1. Give Your Pantry a Makeover
Go through your pantry, cupboards and refrigerator and throw out anything with the following words (these are additives, chemicals and preservatives to stay away from):
- Partially hydrogenated (usually will be some sort of oil, all are bad trans fats)
- Artificial sweeteners such as sucralose, aspartame, acesulfame K, and neotame, among others, found in diet sodas, and sugar free snacks
- Food dyes, Red 3 has caused cancer in lab rats, and Yellow 5 and Yellow 6 may contain cancer-causing contaminants, I would stay away from all to be safe.
- Watch out the word ‘enrichment’. That means niacin, thiamine, riboflavin, folic acid, and iron are added after these and other key nutrients are stripped out in the first place during the refining process.
- Monosodium Glutamate is an additive. It is not a nutrient, vitamin or a mineral and has no health benefits.
- High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS) causes insulin resistance, diabetes, hypertension, weight gain and not to mention it is manufactured from genetically modified corn
- Soy although it’s often lauded as a healthy, cholesterol-free, cheap, low-fat protein alternative to meat, soy is not a health food. Any foods that list soy in any form as an ingredient should be avoided. Like the above, most of the U.S. soy is genetically modified.
2. Drink More Water
Did you know that on average we need to be drinking half of our body weight in water each day? That means if a person weighs 150 lbs they should be drinking 75 ounces of water a day. Don’t let that overwhelm you, start small: drink a glass or two more water then work up to it. This allows for proper hydration your body needs and helps with eliminating toxins.
3. Get that sugar out
Sugar has no nutritional value and it feeds every fungus, parasite, yeast, virus etc. in our body; it helps them grow and in turn weakens our immunity. A good swap for sugar is Stevia. Start small, try a little in your tea or coffee in the morning.
4. Start a Food Journal
To some this may seem like a daunting task. Try it. It works. It really helps you see what you are eating on a daily basis. Also it helps track and narrows down issues you may have with food (food sensitivities, allergies, mood swings etc). When you notice patterns you can eliminate the food you think might be the culprit and see if those symptoms disappear.
5. Buy more Organic food
The more organic and local you eat, the less pesticides, toxins you will ingest. Also eating organic is a good way to keep you away from GMO’s (Genetically Modified Organisms).
6. Be adventurous
On your plate I mean. Yes, this year try new foods! Eat the rainbow. If all you eat is Iceberg lettuce in your salads try a new green. Arugula is a wonderful green that has a slightly peppery taste. You like raisins? Try a handful of Goji berries, they might surprise you and they are packed full of nutrients. Eating a variety of foods ensures we meet all of our nutritional requirements, and aren’t missing any essential vitamins and minerals by eating the same things every day. So have some fun, try a new fruit or vegetable every week.
7. Slow Down
Take your time to eat. So many of us eat on the go these days. What you need to commit to doing, at least once a day, just ONE meal, is to slow down. Take your time to eat and for heaven’s sake SIT DOWN, none of this standing up to eat business. Also make sure to chew your food, this is so important in order to digest our food properly and it will help with many digestive disorders.
8. Eat more sustainably
I’m not saying become a farmer and live off the land (though I think I would love that!) just make a few easy changes to your usual food-shopping and eating routines. Aim for local and seasonal foods, and start shopping at your local farmers’ market. In addition to reducing your carbon footprint, the food is fresher because it doesn’t have to travel as far and you’re also supporting your community’s economy.
9. Plant a Garden
The garden you plant doesn’t have to be a big one. Start small, even an herb garden in your kitchen would be wonderful. Get your kids involved. Nothing could be better than teaching your child about sustainable food.
10. Meal Plan
Meal planning is important especially when health challenges are involved. Start planning out your meals a week or a month in advanced, this will help you to only buy and use what you need and help you to save money.
11. Move that Body
Thought I’d forget this one huh?! It’s true a healthy lifestyle includes moving your body. There are too many benefits of exercise to list. Just remember exercise normalizes many functions in our body, a few being: hormone and thyroid levels, helps plaque from building in our arteries, and helps stimulate the liver (which performs more than 3000 functions). Those are only some of the benefits of adding exercise to your lifestyle. One of the greatest advantages of moving your body is how much better it makes you feel in every way! If exercise is new to you, start with a 15 minute walk 3 times a week then work up to 30 minutes!!
If you’re having trouble coming up with your own New Year’s goals or resolutions then please feel free to choose from the ones I’ve listed. Pick the ones the work for you and DO YOUR BEST to reach them. You will find that putting these healthy eating habits into practice will not only benefit your health, it will help you get to your desired weight naturally (if weight loss is a resolution or goal for you). Remember true weight loss is something you cannot achieve with a magic pill. True weight loss is slow, but you are more likely to stick with it and keep it off.
Like me, I’m sure you have heard at some point in your lifetime about how to buy safe canned seafood (Tuna, Salmon, etc.) It seems like there is always a new study coming out saying something different about whether canned seafood is safe or not. So which is it, good or bad? Honestly, I say BOTH. For me I really think it depends on a few things:
- Where was it caught?
- Do the cans have BPA?
- And what are the ingredients?
Where was the fish in the canned seafood caught?
On the canned seafood cans always look for the words “Wild Caught”, this will insure you that the fish was not farm raised and fed grains and or given dye (mostly found in canned salmon). My advice is to stay away from commercial brands like Starkist and Chicken of the Sea, both of these brands claim to be wild-caught but they use additives in their canned seafood.
Do the cans the canned seafood comes in contain BPA?
BPA is a chemical used in the manufacturing of some vinyl can liners, including those found in some canned seafood. Researchers classify BPA as an “endocrine disruptor” because it has the ability to disrupt activities in the body’s endocrine (hormonal) system which is linked to a wide array of ailments such as ADHD and heart disease. We’ve only seen a few studies that actually measured BPA in canned seafood, and the results were mixed. Some of the studies showed contamination of the seafood with BPA, and some did not.
What are the ingredients in the canned seafood?
Safe canned seafood should only have 2-3 ingredients including: fish, water and maybe some salt. If it lists more than three ingredients then I’d be weary. If it says vegetable broth (which usually contains soybeans) or Pyrophosphate (a common food grade additive used in a variety of products from chicken nuggets to toothpaste) then I would steer clear from those.
If you look out for those few things on your can, you should be able to select safer options for canned seafood. For me, I love a good can of tuna or salmon. I eat it at least once a week in a salad or when making salmon cakes! Remember that seafood has some very valuable fatty acids (Omega 3′s) with are essential for our body they give a good source of energy, they are the building blocks for every cell membrane in our body and are necessary for healthy liver function, just to name a few benefits. Now you can feel better knowing that you are doing your body a favor by eating fish…even canned seafood!
Here are some trusted canned seafood brands:
What brand of canned seafood is your favorite and how do you like to enjoy it?
Unfortunately fats/oils have gotten a bad rap over the past sixty years. The low-fat/no-fat approach was first promoted in the 1950’s by nutrition researcher Nathan Pritikin. Initially, Pritikin advocated a no-fat diet, high in un-refined carbohydrates, but after long-term research he realized that a no-fat diet led to many physiological imbalances including fatigue, mood disorders like depression, nutrient and mineral deficiencies, weight issues and more. Realizing that fat (fatty acids) were necessary for balanced health, Pritikin began promoting that a low-fat diet, including modest amounts of vegetable fats (from nuts and seeds), was actually more healthful than the no-fat diet approach. Hence, the low-fat diet was born and this dangerously flawed theory is still a core dietary recommendation among dieticians, clinical nutritionists, and doctors.
So throw that myth out the door, that fat makes you fat and is unhealthy for you! The fact is that the human body NEEDS fat. Why you ask? Here are some excellent reasons:
How fats/oils of all kinds benefit our body:
- Fats and oils satisfy our appetites
- Fats and oils aid in healthy hormone balance in our body
- Fats and oils are the main fuel for the muscles which includes the heart muscle.
- Optimal liver and gallbladder function
- Fats and oils help to nourish every cell in our bodies
- Fats and oils allow us to heal quickly and effectively
- Fats and oils are better source of energy. They are a long burning fuel unlike sugars/carbs which are fast burning.
- Fats and oils promote healthy cholesterol levels.
Now after having said all that, which fats and oils do we use?! Well this is where you have to be careful and really read your labels. There is a difference between good fats and bad fats. When you are looking for good fats always look for the words: Cold Pressed, UN-refined (emphasizing the UN), Expeller Pressed, Organic and Extra Virgin. Bad (Rancid) fats will say this: Hydrogenated, Partially Hydrogenated, refined and they might trick you and say Cold PROCESSED (instead of Cold PRESSED) see that little trick they do there! Dirty isn’t it! Remember it’s very important to stay away from these oils, the human body CANNOT and does NOT have the capability to digest these rancid, refined oils. So here is a list of the GOOD oils you should be using:
Top 12 Oils and Fats to use:
Best for cooking at higher temperatures and do not turn rancid easily, ideal for baking and sautéing
3. Palm Kernel Oil (made from the kernels of palm fruit, and similar to coconut oil)
4. Lard and other animal fats from healthy sources
Lower heat point, good for light sautéing, simmering and stir-frying.
5. Olive Oil (unfiltered is best, should be golden yellow/green in color and cloudy.)
6. Almond Oil
7. Avocado Oil
8. Sesame Oil
Easily damaged by light, heat and turn rancid easily, not used for cooking and should always be stored in dark containers in the refrigerator.
* UNSAFE FOR ANY KIND OF HEAT EXPOSURE! DO NOT USE FOR COOKING! Use these oils instead as a supplement form or to make in a dressing.
10. Fish Oil
11. Grapeseed oil
12. Hemp Seed oil
Having a good balance of the above fats is key! If you eat a healthy combination of these oils then you will have a good balance of Essential Fatty Acids in your body!!
Oils/Fats that are UNSAFE in any circumstances:
Canola Oil and Cottonseed Oil
Both are HIGHLY processed oil. Don’t let the canola fool you ….listen to how it’s pronounced CON-ola. Canola is the oil of the industry, and it is the oil they are currently using in the prepared foods at Whole Foods Markets across the country. It has no place in our digestive track. Cottonseed oil is one of the most genetically modified, pesticide- laden crops in America. Stay away from it at all costs, if you eat Crisco…throw it out, cottonseed oil is one of the main ingredients! So, did I stun you today?! I hope right now that you are going through you kitchen looking for those bad oils and throwing them out! If you stick to the list above then you will be okay!
Did this list surprise you or have you been cooking and using these healthy oils all along?
Something I hear a lot is, “I would buy organic foods and products if they weren’t so expensive!” This statement makes me want to roll my eyes… and then roll them again. Really? Too expensive? I don’t think it’s more expensive than future medical costs you will incur if you continue to eat processed junk that can barely be called, “food”! And while it’s probably obvious that this argument drives me up a wall, I have to remind myself that for a lot of people saving money on organic foods, and saving money in general, isn’t just a preference but it’s a necessity. Not everyone has the luxury of buying all organic (I sure don’t), and some just don’t know where to start. This is where my heart gets soft, because I didn’t know either. If someone would have informed me when I was younger I would have really appreciated that, not only knowing what foods I should be eating, but how to make an organic diet a sustainable one. And so I’ve put together a few tips that I hope will make saving money on organic foods a little easier for you, and make your shopping trips more enjoyable.
Saving Money on Organic Foods
1. Did you know that you don’t have to buy all organic produce? There are some fruits and veggies that have less pesticides, making it okay to buy non-organic if you are in a pinch. With my family of five, this has come in very handy. Here is a good list to give you an idea of what you should buy organic and what is okay to buy conventional. You’ll notice the fruit and veggies for which we eat the skin, we should always buy organic and most of the produce that has skin typically not for ingesting or have low pesticide ratings are okay to buy conventionally. Here are examples:
Produce that should be purchased organically:
- Cherry tomatoes
- Hot peppers
- Nectarines (imported)
- Sweet bell peppers
- Collards & kale
- Summer squash & zucchini
Produce that is safe to purchase conventionally:
- Sweet peas (frozen)
- Sweet potatoes
2. The next best thing for saving money on organic foods is to buy locally. Some farmers cannot afford to have their farm be organic certified, so in the stores these will be labeled: “Locally Grown” or from local farmers. Go to farmers markets and buy straight from the farmers where you can ask them questions on how they grow their food.
3. Get rid of the junk! Buying fewer processed foods means less of your budget going towards junk and frees that money up for buying organic whole foods!
4. Next spring start your own organic garden. My family did this and it helped lower the cost on produce for a good 6 months. Plant the vegetables that you buy the most to help costs even more. Plus it’s so rewarding to eat food that you grew in your back yard.
5. Buy in bulk. When you buy in bulk the upfront cost will be more, but you get more for your money and you will not have to buy those items for awhile. This option is especially good for the items you use the most in your home like grains, nuts, seeds, flours, spices, beans and even household supplies. You can find a whole bunch of organic items to buy in bulk online.
6. Develop a meal plan. I find that making a weekly or monthly meal plan helps in saving money on organic foods. When you develop a meal plan you can make your shopping list very easy and you’ll know exactly what you have to buy and what ingredients you need to buy organic. This helps on costs because you aren’t just buying things you might need, or might make and that helps not buying things that’ll just go to waste.
7. When you go to your grocery store, co-op or health food store look for the produce that is marked down because they are bruised or overly ripe. This is a good time to stock up. I like it when I get a ton of bananas and apples. I freeze the bananas and make applesauce and apple butter!
8. Go straight to the farm. Usually when you go straight to the source you can get produce cheaper than the grocery stores and sometimes even a better deal than the farmers markets! You can check the web site Local Harvest for the markets that are in your area.
9. Buy organic foods that are in season. Out of season foods can cost more because of shipping costs, as well as the demand versus the availability of the item. Buying foods that are in season saves on the transport energy, and lowers the cost of the food.
10. Shop for organic foods and products online. If you are in an area where you cannot get good organic food, and so saving money on organic foods isn’t the primary issue, shop online! It’s nice when you can have items delivered straight to your house and most places have deals for saving money on organic foods.
Have these tips helped you? What tips can you share for saving money on organic foods?
For the most part of 2013 my family has been doing its best to be gluten free, with the exceptions of my son and my
husband (it’s been hard and I think my son will get on board much easier than my husband, but I’m working on them both!). We found out one of our daughter’s was gluten sensitive early this year and have been doing our best to adapt. One of her most missed foods is pasta. In the beginning it was very hard, but since there are so many delicious gluten free foods available nowadays, we’ve been adapting fairly well and even my husband likes our gluten free pasta options. Before I give you a list of gluten free pasta options, here is a good read about gluten. Also, check out this article to see if you might be suffering from gluten intolerance and get tips for how to start living a gluten free lifestyle. Now for the fun part…
5 Favorite Gluten Free Pasta Options:
- Believe it or not vegetables make a perfect substitute for traditional pasta noodles; Spaghetti squash in particular is an excellent option. Spaghetti and meatballs is my family’s favorite dish using Spaghetti squash. I have also used thinly sliced, cabbage and zucchini too!
- Brown Rice Pasta: I usually have this on hand in my home at all times for quick meals like gluten free macaroni and cheese.
- Corn Pasta is another option. I personally have never tried it before, but I’m very curious and I can’t wait to test it out on the family. When buying any type of corn, remember to always buy organic corn.
- Quinoa, did you know they can make pasta out of quinoa? Quinoa is one of my favorites and I just love the taste and texture. Ancient Harvest does a blend of quinoa and corn that’s very delicious.
- Kelp Noodles are a great option too. I like these because they are quick and easy. You can rinse them off and eat them as is or heat them up in your favorite dish. These are especially good in stir-fry’s.
Now that you have a few more gluten free pasta options, I hope you feel more confident in the kitchen knowing that you can use the options above to make your favorite dishes again. Oh! One last gluten free pasta option! And this was a must: lasagna! Yes, you can still have lasagna! Can you tell from all my exclamation points that it was my most missed pasta? It’s hard to find a good gluten free lasagna pasta! I’m part Italian, going gluten free sounded like a death sentence for me at first, so I definitely sympathize with anyone’s gluten free lifestyle change. I promise you though, you will make it work and in time you won’t even miss those wheat noodles anymore. Plus by going gluten free you are doing your body a wonderful favor so keep up the good work!
What is your favorite gluten free pasta? Did you have a favorite pasta dish that you re-invented with gluten free substitutes?
Are you pregnant or planning to become pregnant and have been worried about the BPA in plastics? Here is some information that can help you stay BPA Free and protect you and your baby before, during and after pregnancy.
What is BPA anyway?
BPA is a chemical called Bisphenol A and is the main component of polycarbonate, the hard, clear plastics sometimes used to make baby bottles, food storage containers, water bottles and much more. It can also be found in the lining in canned foods, filters of cigarettes, contact lenses and it even may be in certain “carbonless” receipts, where it coats paper to prevent ink smears.
How Can This Affect Moms-to-be?
- Baby girls who are exposed while in the womb to BPA’s may develop behavior problems as children.
- Children of mothers who have the high levels of BPA during pregnancy are twice as likely to wheeze in early childhood, than the children of mothers with the lower BPA’s.
- Some studies suggest that possible effects from BPA could be most pronounced in infants and young children. Their bodies are still developing and they are not as efficient at eliminating substances from their systems.
- BPA is an endocrine disruptor. It changes the way our body’s hormones function, mimicking our own natural hormones, estrogen being the main culprit.
- Two studies have found that adults with the highest levels of BPA in their bodies seem to have a higher incidence of heart problems
- Women with higher levels of BPA are more likely to have fertility issues. Studies show higher risk of miscarriages as well.
*Please remember although this list of possible BPA risks is frightening, keep in mind that nothing has been established. The concern about BPA risks stems primarily from studies in animals – more studies need to be done. I don’t know about you, but as a mom I would rather be safe, and use products that are BPA free, than sorry.
What can you do to stay BPA Free?
- If you are planning a family, to get ready for the baby and a healthy pregnancy, go through your house and toss out anything that contains BPA’s, this will help limit you and baby’s exposure to the chemical.
- Start using glass water bottles instead of plastic.
- Limit and or avoid canned foods (Eden Foods claims to use an alternative to BPA)
- If a mother is unable to breastfeed her child use glass baby bottles or switch to polypropylene bottles that are labeled “5″ on the bottom.
- Can your own vegetables and fruits in glass mason jars.
- Look at the bottoms of plastic containers, if you see a 1 or a 7 it is most likely BPA, avoid those.
- Read your plastic products (toys, bottles, food containers etc) make sure it reads, “BPA free” on the package.
- Ask your cashier to throw away your receipt.
- If you wear contacts make sure they are made from BPA free ingredients.
- When grocery shopping buy whole foods instead of canned foods.
- Buy BPA Free Toothbrushes.
I hope these tips will help ease your mind and give you steps towards living a life with less BPA. What have you done to limit use of BPA’s?
My baby is 2 now, and has cut most of her teeth, so I haven’t had the need to use organic teething biscuits for some time now, but when she was teething, I was baking up a storm of different kinds of teething friendly goodies. With my first two kids I went with whatever my mom used on my siblings and I growing up which was the Nabisco’s Zwieback toast. Do they still make that? I’m scared to look. I also remember using a brand from Ger which I dreaded giving my kids because it made the biggest mess.
That is why with my last baby and now living a healthy lifestyle I wanted to stray from the conventional teething biscuits I once knew and wanted to make my own organic teething biscuits with healthy baby friendly ingredients. These recipes are very versatile, so you will be able to substitute many ingredients!
Basic Organic Teething Biscuit Recipe
(Best for babies age 1 and up, see note below)
- 1 cup Organic Rolled oats (grind oats and make coarse oat flour)
- 1cup Organic Quick oats
- 1/4 teaspoon Fine sea salt
- 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
- 1 teaspoon aluminum free powder
- 2 Tablespoons of Pure Maple Syrup (or can use less or omit this all together if you don’t want any sugar in your biscuits)
- 1 cup organic applesauce (homemade would be even better)
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 3 Tablespoon Organic Coconut Oil or Ghee (melted)
Mix dry ingredients in. Add in syrup, if using, and melted oil. Form date-like shapes and put on greased baking sheet or parchment paper.
Bake at 350F for 30-45 minutes, depending on your oven. Flip them halfway through so that you have a nice golden crisp on both sides of biscuit. Store in uncovered dish for at least 24 hours which will harden them even more.
*There are many variations you can do with this organic teething biscuit recipe. Try using pumpkin instead of applesauce and add pumpkin spice, or add mashed banana instead of applesauce with a tsp. of cinnamon. So many options you can try!
Grain Free (Gluten Free) Organic Teething Biscuits
- 1 – 1/2 cups Almond flour (or try using 1 cup sprouted flour)
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 2 Tablespoons coconut oil
- 2 egg yolks (pastured raised preferred)
- 1/2 cup purred/mashed fruit (applesauce, mashed bananas, pumpkin, carrots sweet potato etc.)
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract (I like to use the non-alcohol extract)
- 3-4 Tablespoons of water
Preheat oven to 350 F. Lightly grease a baking sheet or use bleach free parchment paper . Beat oil and egg yolks together, mixing well. Add mashed fruit or vegetables.
Add in the rest of the dry ingredients and fold into wet mixture until combined. If the mixture is too dry, add a little more water by the teaspoons. The dough will be stiff but should not crumble. Knead the dough and roll out on a floured surface or parchment paper to form an about 12 inch log. Cut small slices 1/4-1/2 inch thick and arrange on the baking sheet.
Bake for about 20-30 minutes (depending on oven) and flip half way through for even baking.
If you would rather buy your biscuits try this brand. Have you made organic teething biscuits before, what were you favorite ingredients?
*Most babies’ digestion is not prepared for processing grains especially wheat, before the age of one. In order to process grains, we need to make the enzyme Amylase. Babies do not make this enzyme in large enough amounts to digest grains until their molar teeth are fully developed. And for most kids this doesn’t happen until they are closer to 2 years old. So, what happens when babies are given grains that they cannot digest? It irritates the lining of their little digestive tract and can have a negative impact on the balance of good and bad bacteria in their tummy. If babies tummy’s are chronically irritated and inflamed this can lead to a host of problems which including food allergies, asthma and even behavioral problems. Many parents (including myself with my first two children) are fed a diet of cheerios, toast, pasta and other processed foods that have no nutritional value and that are filled with GMO’s, sugar and hydrogenated oils (trans fats), we are leaving less room in their diet for nutrient-rich foods that they need to be healthy.
*Spouted flours – The grains have been sprouted and then dehydrated and finally ground to make flour. This process neutralized the phytic acid in the grains. Phytic acid can combine with minerals in our body (zinc, calcium, etc.) and block their absorption. This can lead to mineral deficiencies and bone loss.