Archive | Green Products

Juicing With Spud!

With my focus on health and transforming the food in my kitchen with reducing processed food, I knew that a juicer would be another tool to assist with this mission. When I found out SPUD was carrying juicers, I knew they would be a great place to ask for help – their knowledge in the world of organics & now juicing is well respected. And this folks, is the difference between buying an appliance like a juicer at a department store or with a small business that specializes in education. I have received support, recipes, the Fat, Sick, & Nearly Dead DVD, and I know SPUD is invested in my juicing success. Juicing machines have really evolved over the last few years. I think older models had lots of pieces and were tough to want to use because of the cleanup. This isn’t the case anymore as my Breville Juice Fountain Elite has 5 big pieces that snap together – my kids could assemble it. Not only is it easy and a beautiful machine if you want to store it on your counter-top, but the pieces that heat up and actually create the juice, are stainless steel. For a person trying to stay clear of plastic – this is a wonderful feature.

SPUD has totally evolved since I last ordered produce. They sell two types of top rated juicers (Breville and Hurom Slow Juicer) and also offer organic juicing  boxes. The juicing boxes are easy to order and once you have a couple of favourite juicing combo recipes, figuring out box contents is easy. The SPUD Dynamic Beauty box is a great mix of produce items and provides around 20 glasses of juice a week, or around 2-3 glasses a day. The All Vegetable box would probably be more in line with Joe’s Reboot (Creator of Fat, Sick, & Nearly Dead documentary) as he is a big fan of greens. Juicing boxes were designed to be more of a supplement to healthy eating versus a complete juice cleanse, although you could always order more produce to do a cleanse. I’m working my way up to a 3 day cleanse – I think if you’ve got solid recipes to ensure proper nutrition, a system reboot is worth a try.

The key for wanting to use a juicer often is the process needs to be easy. I have a tough time staying on top of home cooked meals, healthy baked snacks, so using a juicer needs to be quick and fun. And boy is it both! The kids also love to help making juices and the rule is “if you help you have to try the finished product”. They haven’t been a huge fan of the deep green juices, but they love any of the carrot, apple, orange, celery combos.  The X-Ray Vision Juice recipe listed below is their favourite! The Hurom juicer is a masticating slow juicer which means you get a really high juice yield, and maximum nutritional value because the produce isn’t heated during the juicing process. It uses a low speed technology system so produce isn’t oxidized and each glass of juice is filled with tons of beneficial live enzymes and micro-nutrients. SPUD is also now carrying the Hurom Premium Slow Juicer & Smoothie Maker which is a great machine for families that like to both juice and create smoothies!  I was torn between these two models trying to balance my love for stainless steel and the slower processing yield of the Hurom – you just need to decide what is the most important to you in a juicer.

Why do I love the juicer? There are certain nutrients that I want to be eating but haven’t spent the time or energy to find a way to ingest them in their whole form. A few examples of this are kale, ginger, spinach, and celery. These greens and ginger are hyped for a reason. They are incredibly good for you but I really dislike the taste of kale and ginger. Yes, I’ve tried kale chips too – but nothing has permanently stuck with kale. And with all the nutritional sites I follow, you start to feel inadequate if these super foods aren’t on your list as everyday food choices. Well I can get these foods on a regular basis through juicing. And on the other hand, you also discover there are foods you would just rather eat than juice and cucumber and beets are these items for me. I love raw cucumbers and steamed beet salad – these foods have a bitter taste when juiced.

Juicing is transforming other parts of our lives as a family. I’m finally getting one of those fridges that you open and the first thing you see on every shelf is a fruit or vegetable. We always have full shelves of green or fruit and I love that. Fresh juicing of delicious produce reduces another packaged and normally unhealthy product of traditional boxed juice in your fridge. I love being that mom that can grab a handful of apples, oranges, or carrots quickly, juice them up and produce a great glass of nutritious juice for the kids when they ask for it. The largest shelf in my fridge is the top shelf – here is a picture of what it’s holding.

I’ve bookmarked many juicing recipes and will share more of these with the benefits of the green vegetables while we continue to juice. For now, I’ll forward you two favourites – the X-Ray Vision Juice because it’s amazingly tasty (and we make popsicles with the leftover juice). Also, the Deep Green Juice – I must admit I had to pull on my big girl pants to finish the green juice, but when you look at the nutrients from it – wowza!  It’s easy.

Deep Green Juice (makes 2 large glasses)
1 cucumber
4 stalks celery

1 apple
2 handfuls kale
1 lemon
1″ piece of ginger

X-Ray Vision Juice (single serving) ** Kid Friendly **
3 carrots
1 orange
1/2 apple
1 stalk celery
From popsicle leftovers to enjoying the buzz I get after drinking a big tall juice – I’m loving the lifestyle changes that happen from juicing. Most juicing pictures go onto my Instagram page so follow me there to learn more recipes and combinations for detox, migraines, most alkaline, anti constipation, anti asthma, immune, and eczema juices. Yes – there are juicing recipes for pretty much anything which makes sense because you are taking concentrated, clean, whole nutrients over eating processed, packaged ones.
FacebookTwitterGoogle+Share
sig

3

Genetically Modified Tampons?

There have been very few things in my journey that I’ve recommended to ditch immediately after researching. I normally say save the cleaners, personal care products, processed food, etc. because you’ll always be in a pinch and can take the opportunity to use them up. The one product I would say dispose of right away are traditional tampons. A few days ago, I turned into a sleuth at a local store and snapped a photo of the materials listed on the back of a tampon box. Why? I really thought the materials listed would have changed since I first researched tampons 4 years ago. When I first wrote this article, I was horrified to find out polyester was an ingredient in tampons. I was just starting to remove materials like polyester from being close to my family because one daughter has eczema and natural fibers were less irritating for her skin. The other part of researching polyester was finding out that flame retardant properties are naturally occurring in this material. So if this is true, I still have to ask tampon manufacturers where polyester is used in the make-up of a tampon and why this petroleum based plastic is doing in a menstrual product? Researching the exact materials and chemical components of tampons is difficult because this information is kept proprietary. Unlike personal care products, makeup, etc. tampons adhere to a different criteria of labeling because they are a medical device. Kind of the same thing as sex toys labelled as gag gifts so you don’t need to discover that plastic dildos are made from PVC – the most toxic form of plastic on the market. It’s beyond disgusting and because these products are used in such an intimate part of the body that is highly porous, absorbent and toxins thrive in tissue.

With spending so much of my life thinking about genetically modified food and how to avoid it, I had another really scary thought about traditional tampons. How do we know if they are made from genetically modified cotton – otherwise known as BT cotton? This form of cotton is grown from GM seed and grows resistance to antibiotics. It adds a whole new layer to the cotton industry and for woman that use non-organic tampons. Even conventional cotton is grown using heavy pesticides and we know toxins released into our body from pesticides like to live in fat cells.

The only positive difference I can find 4 years later with tampons is the industry changed their bleaching standards for the rayon (wood pulp) that is mixed with cotton for absorbancy. But the fact is trace amounts of dioxin can still exist from whitening and the heavy processing that occurs to make wood pulp a soft and fluffy form of rayon.  So here we have the 3 active materials used in a tampon: polyester, cotton, and rayon. Nothing but pesticides, petroleum, chemicals, and possibly trace amounts of dioxin or flame retardants. We give our teenagers these products to use because they are straight forward, inexpensive, disposable, and easy for them to manage. We need to think about teenage girls and their long term health. Could tampon use over a 20 year period contribute to infertility problems, inflammatory disease and Endometriosis?

Since writing that first article about tampons four years ago, I really only made one permanent change to my routine. No tampons. If I have to go swimming in the summer with the kids, I buy organic cotton tampons. I always meant to try a Mooncup or Diva Cup but I’m not a huge fan of silicone. For the most part I use reusable pads (Lunapads) and disposable pads for heavy days.

I encourage you to tell 3 people that might still be using traditional tampons. I think teenagers and young adults are the highest users. Use the graphic below to think about the three main ingredients of traditional tampons and their level of toxicity. Make the switch, tell 3 friends, make an impact.

sig

5

Litterless Lunch Solutions

I’ve been asked for my opinion on what is the best litterless lunch solution for back-to-school and with so many great options it comes down to each lunch solution being compatible with different foods a family enjoys packing. I have several lunch containers from reviews over the years so I thought I’d photograph different combos and share with pictures rather than descriptions – sometimes a visual is more helpful. I do have a few rules I stick to with packing any food for my children (and self) so I’ll list these before the pictures:

– I don’t use plastic. I don’t care if it’s BPA-free, phthalate free, recycled, etc, etc. At the end of the day, I don’t trust plastic or want it near my children’s food.

– Ditto on the plastic for water bottles. I also don’t use aluminum water bottles that have liners. I trust 18/8, stainless steel bottles and these are what I use for myself and children. On hot days, I include a couple of ice cubes (made from stainless steel ice trays) into their bottles to keep water icy cold. This is a great trick for back-to-school and keeping water delicious.

– Stainless steel is my favorite reusable material for back-to-school lunches. I like using single walled stainless steel systems for most days – I find it keeps food at just the right temperature. Ice packs, etc. normally aren’t required. To keep food hot however, double walled stainless steel is needed. All thermos systems I’ve seen that keep food hot, have a bit of plastic around the top. I tried out the Laptop Lunches system from Organically Hatched and like the size for when I pack soup or leftovers for the kids.

– With lunch bags I’m sticking with organic cotton. I wrote an article months ago about non-stick diaper bag liners and discovered some brands contain teflon. It’s really turned me off of lunch bags – no knowing what they are insulated with. I love the Graze bags…I used them all last year when sending kids with a hot lunch and needing somewhere to put a stainless steel utensil.

– I love tiffins. They are my #1 system because I’m very rushed in the morning and don’t have time to work within the set confines or spaces that other systems offer. They are air-tight, fun for the kids to use and we’ve never lost a piece because kids can’t close the system unless the containers, lid, and latch are ready to be secured. I’m also making more items from scratch for lunches so these foods tend to be larger in size and won’t fit into traditional systems. Also note that tiffin is the name for a style of system – it’s not the brand name. There are many different suppliers making tiffins, I can only vouch for and recommend the tiffins sold via Green Planet Parties.

– Encourage your school to only be using reusable products for food, snacks, and lunches. If you’ve been asked to provide plastic sandwich bags with your back-to-school supplies, supply a few cloth bags as an alternative.

Now here are some pictures!  First up, you know it’s going to be tiffins. Here are two pictures so you see how a full apple (or larger whole fruit) can go in the top container because the lid is domed. This picture also shows how you can easily partition a container to separate fruit, veggies, etc. – I use parchment paper.

This sized tiffin is recommended for preschool to all elementary school aged children for back-to-school. A light-weight system that gives plenty of options with three roomy containers.

The next most common question I get asked with back-to-school is how to transport hot food (soup, left-overs, stir-fry, etc.) with back-to-school. In order for food to stay hot you need to have a double walled system. I picked up a Laptop Lunches thermos from Organically Hatched and it’s very roomy, stainless steel, and will grow with your child because it’s not marked with commercialized characters. It’s great to have a lunch bag to accompany a thermos because normally you need a side container of fruit, cutlery, and a cloth napkin to include. I used my Graze organic cotton lunch bags for this all last year when bringing left over Shepard’s Pie for my kids or soup. I love knowing they can be composted when they are tattered and torn. Here is a picture of this system:

My last visual is for parents that love to pack multiple smaller, separate containers for back-to-school. You’ll definitely need a lunch bag to keep them all together. I know parents love the lunchbots. I’ve had them leak on me before, so I tend to gravitate to a container that has clips and a silicone ring; this usually means that it’s airtight. You can find lunchbots here and greentainers (with clips) here:


For tips on navigating through greener back-to-school shopping, check out these articles:

Limit Your Food Packaging: Make Your Own Granola Bars


Save Money & Green Back-to-School Supplies!

How To Bring Green & Healthy Values Back-to-School

sig

0

Save Money & Green Back-to-School Supplies!

I have never ordered a pre-assembled kit of back-to-school supplies. My oldest child used to feel left out when every other child in his class was given ‘the box’ on the first day of school but now he has no problem bringing his decorated shoe box with more carefully selected school supplies inside. At this stage of my parenting journey, I’m not even sure I would pay the money to have a green pre-assembled school supplies kit provided for my children because I think we often forget about reusing with back to school. For the last few years, at the end of the school year, I parked their books and supplies in a bag or box and forgot about them in a closet. This year I combed through previous years of supplies and to my delight I won’t need to purchase many new items! Check out the sets I made from mixed sets of crayons – I have four complete sets for each of my kids!

I wasn’t sure if teachers would mind if supplies weren’t new and I was reminded by a reader and teacher on the MF fanpage that a crayon color spectrum is really more important for your children than the teacher. Purchasing Crayola products goes against so much of what I believe in because they are a huge company that doesn’t have the manufacturing standards I usually support –  so it’s been a relief to realize it’s up to my kids if they only want 6 beeswax or soy crayons in art supplies that are made in North America and don’t contain petroleum. The Clementine brand I point to at the end of this article for crayons, markers, and glue are all manufactured in the US and that is important. I of course won’t be purchasing the soy or beeswax crayons this year because I’ve done a great job of rounding up crayons in my own home – reusing is always best! And I’ve made 4  complete sets! But when you need to purchase new, avoid the petroleum, plastic, and antibacterial crap on the market and become your child’s eco warrior with back-to-school shopping!

Where else can you easily up-cycle with back-to-school supplies?  You know the little interlined work books for elementary school?  I have found more than 10 of these from previous years that only have a few pages filled out . . the rest are blank! I’ve ripped out these pages and will be sending the rest of the blank books with my kids. I have blank printer labels and will be applying these to the front of the books to eliminate the name, grade, subject information my children wrote from previous years. There is a cost savings here and think of the amount of wasted paper each year?!

Other supplies that are still in great condition that we are reusing from previous years? Wooden ruler, O’bon coloured pencil crayons, pencils, duotangs (empty and reuse), scissors, and paint! Now here are some tips for purchasing new back-to-school supplies. This is a great time to talk about commercialism with back-to-school. If you want to keep rolling over school supplies each year, stay away from the licensed folders, pencil cases, backpacks, water bottles, etc. That cute little monkey design or Dora and SpongeBob print might be cute for Grade 1 but they are not babies anymore by Grade 2 and might feel embarrassed by bringing what they once loved at this age. Keep supplies classic and simple – there is a secret to longevity by doing this. I would also encourage not to bring small children back-to-school shopping with you. If it’s just going to be a tantrum or fight for the supplies they don’t understand are poor quality and toxic – let kids stay home. Bring older kids with you and explain why and how you are making decisions on what to buy. Have older children go through supplies from the previous year and save what they’ll reuse. Also have them participate with decorating the up-cycled shoe box to bring supplies in.

I noticed last year and again this year, companies are doing a lot of marketing for Microban and antibacterial products. Examples of this are pencils, scissor handles, water bottle lids (the worst of all in my opinion), and binders. Normally Microban in plastic contains Triclosan which is a chemical that does not belong in back-t0-school supplies. The original use for Triclosan, a strong chemical, was used in surgical rooms. Why would we turn a classroom into the equivalent of a hospital with antibacterial properties? Skip this chemical (look for antibacterial or Microban marketing) and if you are asked why by school administration you can reply “this is a pesticide linked to hormone disruptions, allergies, asthma, skin irritation, eczema, and thyroid problems”. I have found when you explain to teachers the reason behind limiting your children to chemical exposure – that you’re not trying to be difficult – they are very understanding. Probably the biggest product linked to antibacterial and might be on your school list is hand sanitizer. This is an important one to make eco-friendly and the easiest way is to not purchase anything and request that your child is given the opportunity to wash their hands more often. If you are more comfortable knowing he can disinfect quickly – send Cleanwell wipes or spray in your child’s back-to-school kit. Again, unleash your eco-warrior and don’t let the marketing of ‘germs’ pressure you into purchases that use endocrine disrupting chemicals that could lead to an allergy. Here is a personal story about hand sanitizer. The brands that have perfume or strong scent will trigger a reaction with a person (like me) with chemical sensitivities. A person in one of my children’s classes had just applied hand sanitizer (apricot scented) and the 2 minutes I was in the classroom delivering hot lunches, I felt dizzy and left with a headache. Please be aware of the effects of using strong chemicals – if not for yourself but other people.

I’ve also noticed some ‘non-stick’ marketing with back-to-school supplies. Does anyone need teflon on their scissors? I’m not sure what the inner coating of lunch bags that are marketed non-stick but I stay clear! Remember my article on teflon lined diaper bags? Since researching this article I’ve been wary of non-stick lined products that are marketed to clean or wipe up quickly from spills. I stick to 100% organic cotton lunch bags in place of this and love that they are machine washable. Sticking with cotton is just a great way to go with backpacks, gym bags, and sandwich bags because at the end of their life, you cut off the zipper and plastic velcro and compost. That is a great full cycle story for a product…reuse, reuse, reuse and then compost.  It’s my favourite kind of story.

The last tip is the most important for back-to-school supplies shopping. Avoid plastic. All plastic. I don’t care if it’s marked free of everything; BPA, phthalates, PVC, etc.  At the end of the day, at the end of it’s shelf life – it’s still plastic. We are experiencing the greatest problem in our history with ocean pollution and the leading cause is plastic. Our health has never been so clouded with problems: cancer, asthma, allergies, diabetes, skin sensitivities, endocrine disruption, and more. I don’t trust plastic. Studies have found that many products labeled BPA-free still released chemicals that mimic estrogen.  PVC plastic is a known poison to human health and the environment so if you are purchasing backpacks or supplies made from plastic, please ensure it’s marked PVC-free. Summon your eco-warrior and use your nose if buying plastic…don’t put anything in your cart with that strong plastic smell.  Did you know that coloured paper clips contain PVC coating? With all supplies, including litterless lunch systems, stick with plain stainless steel. Most supplies like rulers, folders, duo-tangs, and binders have non-plastic alternatives in stores. Pens and markers still appear to be the toughest plastics to avoid with back-to-school. Search out recycled plastic options to lesson your environmental impact. If you see a specific plastic request on your child’s school supplies list from the school, try substituting it with a material you are comfortable with. On my children’s list I see a plastic containers to put supplies. Every year I use a shoe box, my kids decorate it with a best memory from the summer and I’ve never received a complaint. Sometimes the supplies lists we are receiving haven’t been tweaked in many years so it’s more of a guideline. The below picture is of my oldest son’s supplies box from last year. It’s in such good shape we are using it again this year!

 

I reviewed soy crayons a few years back and loved them!  You can find Clementine Soy Crayons via Organically Hatched. These crayons are literally like using butter – they just glide. If your child is happy with streamlining their color selection to 6 – then you should be happy too! And minus the petroleum and colorants used by traditional companies! Actually, you could pickup non-toxic glue, crayons, markers, and paint all at the same time shopping here. There isn’t anything eco-friendly about the plastic surrounding the Clementine markers but they are additive free, without scent. Having discussions about what has influenced your purchases with back-to-school products is a wonderful time to educate children. I’m hoping by going through supplies from previous years and re-using what you can, the ability to afford the slightly higher prices for greener back-to-school supplies is manageable. Your children will become your voice and echo the education. My child was the one in Grade 2 last year telling his teacher that the cleaning supplies they were given to clean their desks were toxic and gave him a headache. We donated bottles of diluted Dr. Bronners for our children’s classrooms until the school switched over the Green Seal certified cleaners. A child’s voice is important and matters – give your children the wisdom and help create Eco-warrior children that inspire change!

Related Articles:

Back To School Eco Backpacks

End of School Sustainability

Teflon Lined Diaper Bags


Soccer Saturday – Getting Ready For Rain!

sig

6

Homemade Popsicles

I’ve been really trying to introduce my kids to more homemade frozen and blended treats this summer – rather than store bought or drive-thru. The easiest way has been playing with smoothie recipes and then freezing into popsicles. Using the stainless steel molds is by far the best thing to reduce plastic mixing with your frozen treat. Here is my step-by-step recipe for making homemade, delicious popsicles for summer treats!

Vanilla Flavored Greek Yogurt

 

 

Add Frozen berry (no frozen ice needed when using frozen berries)

Frozen – sliced banana (slice before freezing)

Layer In Blender – Top with Milk

At this point it’s a delicious smoothie!  Pour some and enjoy. However the left over can go into the stainless steel Popsicle mold for homemade Popsicle. They are delicious!

Voila – a really healthy, non plastic popsicle. No wrappers and freezing liquids that you’re going to eat in stainless steel & glass is the safest way to freeze food.

 

What is your favorite thing to add to homemade popsicles or smoothies?

sig

0

Powered by WordPress. Designed by WooThemes