Archive | Kids Health

What Is The Big Deal About a GMO Apple?

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I spend a portion of my life dedicated to activism. It’s something that helps ease my own personal fears for the environment and future for my four children. I’m proud to belong to an activist group focused on educating the public on GMOs (genetically modified food) called GE Free BC. A big focus over the last year for our group has been on the genetically modified apple for a few reasons:

– the company that purchased the GMO apple technology lives about 4 hours away from my community in BC’s beautiful Okanagan so it’s a big BC/Canadian problem.
– this is only the 2nd fruit produced in the WORLD that is GMO so that makes it a pretty big deal.
– the idea of a tree fruit that needs to be pollinated being engineered is so scary to me (bees are already suffering enough with pesticides) that I wouldn’t be able to sleep if I wasn’t involved in trying to stop this from actually being approved in Canada.
– the Okanagan company that produced the GMO apple, has the technology ready to go for peaches, pears, and cherries.  Once our apples are contaminated, 3 other tree fruits will be next.

So with the company behind the GMO apple technology seeking approval from the Canadian Government (we have no way of knowing what the status of this is, as it’s a secret process), our efforts have been very focused to Canada. So you can imagine our shock when news broke this week that the USDA approved the GMO apple for the US. Any North American with concerns about GMOs has been dismayed as this news slowly made it’s way around North America and the rest of the world. It is very difficult to understand why North American governments continue to approve food decisions that consumers clearly don’t want. Not only do consumers not want this, but also farmers, tree growers, and stores are opposed to the idea of growing and selling an apple that doesn’t brown. That is what the ‘modified’ gene trait is with this apple; the gene that browns the apple has been silenced. These Arctic, non-browning apples will not brown until 15-18 days after being cut so it will look fresh when it’s actually rotting.  And for the few consumers that don’t see the big deal about having an apple that doesn’t brown, here is why we are so concerned:

– in order to silence the browning gene, they’ve genetically engineered the apple by inserting a virus, bacteria, and antibiotic marker gene into the apple’s DNA.
– no animal or long-term studies done or requested before approval.
– we don’t know what the nutritional value of an apple once it’s actually rotten. The non-browning alteration is a cosmetic coverup to the actual quality of the fruit.
– every cell of the GM apple tree will have the transgene and once the growers start production of these apples, it will cross contaminate soil, water, insects, and any organism (including humans) that eats it. It’s like opening a Pandora’s box of contamination before proper testing is completed.

As North Americans we think we are so much more advanced than other countries. As Canadians, we live in one of the most beautiful, peaceful countries in the world. But over the years we’ve really let food standards slide when it comes to pesticide use, GMO food production (yes, we are big producers of it) and food standards that allow most of the non-organic packaged food on our grocery store shelves to contain GMO ingredients. Countries that are poor and hungry have said “NO” to growing GMO seed and a bigger “NO” to importing our food, which is slowly being viewed worldwide as tainted. So what did the US do when they approved the GMO apple this week? I fear that they’ve just lost another export. Contamination of a food system is viewed as that big a deal in other countries, and since we know the Ambrosia apple started out with a discarded core in a compost bin, the fear needs to be acknowledged.

If this is the first you are hearing about the GMO apple, we hope you feel outrage and want to take action. Here is possibly the most important action you can take. Talk to your grocery store Manager. Keep it easy, short, and passionate. Tell them that you as a consumer do not want the GMO apples (also called non-browning apple or Arctic Apple) and do not want your local store carrying it if the Canadian Government approves it or after they come into production in the US. If the grocery stores are not carrying this apple, the demand will not be as great.

For more information on how to stop the GMO apple, please visit the CBAN website: http://www.cban.ca/ and follow GE Free BC on Facebook. The time is now to plug back into our food system before we have our grandchildren asking us “how did you let this happen??”!!

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Homemade Nut-Free Granola Bars Kids Love

I started making my own granola bars years ago. Since I first started, the recipe has evolved and I’ve reduced the sugar and increased apple sauce to produce a delicious, kid-friendly, Non-GMO, organic and easy granola bar!  If you have a child that goes to a school where kids have allergies to peanuts, you already know how difficult it is to source granola bars without nuts. I only know of one brand of traditional granola bars that are nut-free and after you read this article from Fooducate, you’ll understand why 1 granola bar that contains GMO ingredients, 43 ingredients (!!), and have 2 teaspoons of sugar (candy bars have 4 teaspoons) is not a food that will fuel your child properly during the day. The below recipe is nut free, making it a wonderful alternative to bring to school or serve where lots of kids hangout and not worry about allergy or ingredient concerns. Yes, when using organic ingredients in the beginning, you’ll experience higher costs, but you’ll get savvy and start buying organic oats, raw honey, and organic flour in bulk.

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After you try this recipe one time, you’ll realize you should double batch. I always do as they go quick around here! I have given these out to hundreds of different children over the years as a concession snack, after sport snack, and packed in lunches. I haven’t met a kid that doesn’t like them. And they contain 11 ingredients that you can easily recognize, rather than the 43 ingredients above that contain a lot of sugars and preservatives.

Ingredients:

2 cups of organic quick cooking rolled oats (I use Bob’s Red Mill)
1/4 cup raw organic sugar (can sub coconut sugar)
1/4 – 1/2 cup ground chia (I use The Chia Co.)
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 cup organic flour
3/4 cup chocolate chips or raisins
1/2 cup raw honey
1 egg, beaten
1/4 cup oil
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup organic apple sauce

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease a square baking pan with butter.

In a large bowl, mix together oats, raw sugar, chia, cinnamon, flour and chocolate chips. Make a well in these ingredients and add honey, egg, oil, vanilla extract, and apple sauce. Use your hands and mix. Pour into the square pan. The mixture should be gloppy (if that is an official word). Don’t worry about adding too much apple sauce – it’s the secret ingredient to these chewy bars!

Bake for 30-35 minutes, watching them until the bars turn golden on the edges. Remove from the oven, wait 5 minutes and cut them into bars while the mixture is still warm. When they have completely cooled, remove and store in an air-tight container.

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DIY Hand Sanitizer For Children

Picturing Fall I think of soup, cozy sweaters, and pumpkins but in reality it is a really busy time of year. With back-to-school routines, sports and activities starting, many kids are getting run-down and sick with not having the opportunity or time to wash hands properly. In no way is a hand sanitizer (DIY recipe or store bought) a replacement for washing your hands. We all know washing hands with soap and warm water is the most effective way to kill germs that cause cold and flu. But when kids are on the run from school to sports, having a back-up solution to hand washing is a great aid in your family wellness kit.

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Why make my own hand sanitizer? Yes, there are brands on store shelves that contain less of the nasty ingredients, but to be store shelf stable, they need preservatives which I like to avoid.  I also learned from making my own sunscreen, understanding every ingredient gives you better insight into personal care products. I have found making my own personal care products to be a great source of empowerment trying to understand how each ingredient aids in sun protection, hand sanitizing, or skin care, etc. I modified Nourishing Treasures recipe, adding more antibac and anti-virus essential oils with tea tree and lavender. All the ingredients to make this DIY hand sanitizer could easily make multiple batches and last all fall and winter seasons. For leftover oils you can easy find uses so invest in the ingredients and enjoy experimenting with very safe essential oils.  Everything used in this recipe was provided by Voyageur Soap & Candle Company Ltd. and if you want to learn more about essential oils or any ingredients for making your own products, this is the store. And they  are currently having a sale so stock up!

DIY Hand Sanitizer Recipe:

1 cup of distilled water
1/2 cup aloe vera extract liquid (not the gel)
1/4 avocado oil
20 drops tea tree oil
20 drops lavender oil

Purchase aluminum spray bottles and kids can decorate the bottles. These bottles make DIY hand sanitizer look store bought so if you’ve got school aged kids that don’t appreciate your DIY efforts, just tell them you bought it.

I’ve been playing with different hand sanitizer recipes and unlike the witch hazel, this hand sanitizer left my hands feeling nourished and soft. Not often you can say that about hand sanitizer – the hospital grade sanitizers leave my skin raw.  I also like the choice of essential oils in this recipe so that parents can use this recipe on young children that might want to avoid mint oils. Thyme is also a popular oil used in natural store bought hand sanitizers, you could add 10 drops if you have it on hand to this recipe if you like the scent.

What ingredients do you want to avoid in hand sanitizers for kids?

1. If your hand sanitizer is marketed as ‘antibacterial’ it might contain triclosan. The concern is it may contribute to making bacteria resistant to antibiotics.

2. Remember when I said I like to avoid preservatives? We know that parabens are now linked to cancer and cause endocrine disruption and should be avoided. Any ingredient in your personal care that ends in ‘paraben’ for example butylparaben, should be avoided in children.

3. For years my kids have complained about the scent that is unleashed from traditional hand sanitizer in a class room when kids bring in highly fragrant sanitizers. If your sanitizer has a strong scent, unless it’s an essential oil blend created by YOU, it’s probably loaded with toxic chemicals.

Strong microban sanitizers belong in hospitals not homes or schools. Make up a batch of this no-germ hand spray and you’ll love having it in-stock to ride out flu season. With media already issuing reports of Enterovirus D68, let’s stay calm and empowered with finding arsenals for family wellness kits. I’m going to stick with tea tree oil’s ability to fight all three types of infectious organisms (bacteria, fungi, and viruses) and encourage more regular hand washing with my family.

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Related Articles:

DIY Sunscreen Without Chemicals or Zinc

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Contest and Review: Blendtec

Sponsored by: Blendtec

Hosted by: Mommy Footprint

 

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When you enter the world of green-living or making small steps to increase your food awareness and health, the blendtec brand is always making an appearance. Whether you are checking out smoothie recipes, making condiments, sauces, soups, etc., you will see a blendtec machine helping make this happen. Why? The power of the blendtec is amazing. You can have that quick convenience of food that doesn’t take long to prepare, but not sacrificing the quality of the food because blendtec will shorten prep time. From the features tab on the machine I own, I read it’s power is measured with 1625 watt, 3.0 peak horsepower motor. As a mom, all I know is whatever I throw at this machine in a frozen or solid form, the machine is tough and it makes you want to use it. Our recent favourite recipes include watermelon slushies and hummus. The items that you make like smoothies are obvious, but with Fall coming I can’t wait to try more soups and get back to making my own mayonnaise. There are very few gadgets I’ve relied on in my journey to being healthier in the kitchen, and I thank blendtec for their quality and dedication to health!

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Here are five reasons more reasons to love a blendtec:

1) The blendtec machines are smart. My son is convinced it can think for itself with the encouraging phrases you’ll see while it’s in use. This makes the fun factor high with these machines!

2) The timing metrics are great. When you select from a set menu of food you are blending, the machine stops at the end of the time allowance so it’s not over processed. Pre-programmed cycles: Smoothie, Ice Cream, Whole Juice, Hot Soup.

3) The parts are a snap to clean and fit perfectly. I appreciate the snug fit for all the parts and unlike my old blender, there is no waste. If you make a smoothie, you are getting all of the contents as nothing gets stuck in the blades.

4) There are only two pieces with both the twister jar and WildSide+ jar that sit on the big, powerful base of the blendtec. Easy to wash, again, the base is a snap to store, making you want to use this machine often. Nothing is worse than taking apart a machine in 5 or more little pieces to clean after.

5) Power. Its worth mentioning again. You save time and enthusiasm remains high with the powerful motor in this machine. If you need more power, simply slide your finger along the base for customized blending.

About blendtec

Blendtec products are made with high quality and power you can count on. People all around the world use Blendtec blenders in their homes, restaurants, smoothie shops, coffee shops and more. The company started with one man and his curiosity. He has shared that vision with others, and with his team, the dream continues to unfold.

We are excited to bring you this amazing Blendtec Designer Model 625 This machine will inspire you to try recipes with the sleek and functional blender design. The contest winner will receive the blendtec designer 625 base in either black or red colour (based on availability), 3 qt. wildside+ jar & gripper lid container, and guide to recipes and tips.

Would you love to have this beautiful blendtec machine for your own kitchen? Our VERY generous sponsor, Blendtec, wants one of our lucky readers to have that chance!  So, let’s get on to the giveaway!

One lucky winner will win this

Blendtec blender 625!

Giveaway ends 9/19/14 at 11:59 pm ET! Open to US andCanadian residents 18+ and older.

Enter using the Rafflecopter form below.

Good Luck!

 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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DIY Sunscreen Without Chemicals or Zinc Oxide

It’s taken since the beginning of the summer to source, make, and test this DIY sunscreen recipe. I’m super proud of the fact it’s an effective recipe, made along with my friend Michelle who is a local holistic health nutritionistWe are not doctors, experts in the field of cancer or product manufacturing, but we are two moms on a journey to remove products we see as possibly harmful for our 6 children combined. What changed my thoughts over the last year from buying organic sunscreen to making my own?

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There have only been a few times in my life where I totally couldn’t wrap my mind around subjects that should have been easy. Sunscreen has always been one of them. Long time Mommy Footprint readers will know how many sunscreen articles I’ve written trying to get to the bottom of ingredients and why titanium dioxide vs zinc oxide are better choices. The topics of 1) preservatives that make products shelf-life stable and 2) nanoparticles and non-nanoparticles are confusing topics that haven’t been researched enough for my liking. And once you remove the zinc and titanium ingredients from organic sunscreen, you start actually looking at ingredients you are left with and think “Hey – I could make this!” It’s very empowering to find your own ingredients that you can pronounce and understand how each one works within a recipe like sunscreen. Most importantly with this recipe, once you learn the SPF levels of oils and products you have in the kitchen – you’ll really be surprised.

And although I still have mad respect for organic sunscreen companies that have paved the way to cleaner ingredient lists and done SO much to educate consumers (Badger and Green Beaver in particular), I know that sunscreen originated in labs and was created with chemicals that just might have spiked the skin cancer rates over the last 50 years. Cancer rates have increased every year, even with all our knowledge of how to better protect our skin. So rather than just go without sunscreen this summer, Michelle and I have done our research and are happy to follow this recipe from Health Impact News. What ingredients were important to source and use? Red Raspberry Seed Oil and Carrot Seed Oil. Check out the SPF ratings for these two products and you’ll see why. Site reference here:

Carrier Oil SPF
Red Raspberry Seed 28 – 50
Carrot Seed Oil 38 – 40
Wheatgerm 20
Soybean 10
Macadamia Nut 6
Jojoba 4
Sesame Seed Oil 2 – 4
Shea Butter 3 – 6
Coconut 2 – 8
Olive 2 – 8
Avocado (unrefined) 4 – 15
Castor Oil 6
Almond Oil 5

So the recipe we adapted and followed from Health Impact News is:

1/4 cup coconut oil
1/4 cup shea butter
1/8 cup sesame or jojoba oil (next time we’ll swap out for avocado oil)
2 TBSP beeswax granules (use more if you want it more water resistant)
1 TSP Red Raspberry Seed Oil
1 TSP Carrot Seed Oil

Click here to get full instructions on how to make your batch of DIY coconut oil sunscreen. Scroll down to Instructions.

You can use essential oils to scent the sunscreen, but the woodsy smell of the carrot seed oil was enough for our batch. My kids did complain slightly about the woodsy scent, but nothing compared to the fuss they made when we first started using organic sunscreen scented with lavender. ;0

You can use whatever essential oils you would like for scent, but make sure to stay away from phototoxic essential oils, which includes the citrus family and a few others. When these essential oils are exposed to the sun, they can cause the skin to burn faster.  **This is really important information**

Another surprise while we made the sunscreen, Michelle’s hubby was hedging bets that the exercise to make our own sunscreen was going to be much higher than just buying a bottle of organic sunscreen from the store. And we agreed. But then he started doing the math (bless him) and surprised all of us to learn that it was cheaper to make our batch of sunscreen than buying store bought organic sunscreen. And we still have lots of ingredients left over to make more! Here is the breakdown in cost:

1/4 cup (60ml) Coconut oil – ~$ 1.25
1/4 cup (60ml Shea butter – ~ $6
1/8 cup (30ml) Jojoba – ~ $3.75
1 tsp (5ml) Red Raspberry Seed oil – ~ $5
1 tsp (5ml) Carrot Seed Oil – ~$9
Bees Wax ~$.80

We took the average cost of our ingredients to figure out how our homemade sunscreen compared to the average store bought ‘clean’ one.  All of our 6 ingredients are organic and/or Fair Trade. The approximate total cost to make this sunscreen is around $26.  When we put it into the jar we ended up with around 220 ml of sunscreen.  The average price of ‘clean’ sunscreen that we purchase is around $19 and the size of container is around 100ml-125ml.  Our homemade sunscreen works out to be cheaper.

Who did this recipe get tested on?  We finished it at the beginning of August, and although the excitement has been high to share, we completed testing first. My lovely teenaged friend who has worked so much this summer and seen very little sun came with us to the pool and used this sunscreen on a very hot day. No trace of burning or pink. My children have very good base tans but we just returned from a week in the desert and they wore the sunscreen and only deepened their tans. And finally, Michelle’s daughters are very fair skinned and she is loving the results of the sunscreen too!  We are still trying to avoid mid-day super hot sun when we are spending a long time outside, and Michelle uses sun shirts, so please continue to use common sense and respect for the sun and UV. If you don’t already have a base tan, you’ll need to reapply this sunscreen recipe every few hours or more often if swimming. The good news is you’ll love how your skin feels after. If you really dislike the white zinc results from store bought organic sunscreen, you’ll love how this recipe immediately soaks into skin, has little scent, and makes your skin very soft after a day outside.

This recipe for homemade coconut oil sunscreen uses a variety of oils and is safe for the whole family, though you want to make sure children don’t eat any of it. Also, when not in use, store the mixture in the fridge to help extend the shelf-life and prevent it from going rancid.

You will know when you are ready to make and trust using your own homemade sunscreen. When the idea of it no longer sounds crazy, but a really smart, practical, idea.

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