Tuesday, June 7, 2011


This is a cool site...ActBolder.com.  You complete a challenge, and you get a reward.  It really is as simple as that.  Now some of the rewards are a discount, others are a free item or a coupon.  Other challenges pick the top action(s) for the highest reward.  My favorite right now is the Keen Go For A Hike challenge.  The favorite 10 top actions get a free pair of Keen shoes!!  Another is Share Your Favorite Organic Moment for a $1.50 off Stonyfield Yogurt coupon.  We go through half a yogurt container on a single Saturday morning.  Simply share a moment and get the coupon.

This is not an affiliate program so nothing but savings straight to you.  It's a great way to challenge yourself and get ideas from others.

Monday, May 30, 2011

BPA free receipts

You have probably heard of BPA (bisphenol A) and the dangers of it being a likely endocrine disruptor.  It has been removed from the majority of baby bottles and many other plastic products.  It is banned in Canada and some European countries.  Recently, there was a lot of attention brought by the media to the BPA contained in cash register receipts.  The concern is/was that you are handling these without washing your hands right away and potentially absorbing it directly through your skin.  Lots and lots of companies are switching to BPA-free receipts, and the cool thing is that you can tell right away if the receipt is BPA free.  The company that makes most receipt paper in America has put small red fibers in the BPA receipts.  At first, I was really excited about this but I couldn't resist researching it a little further. 

Apparently, these BPA free receipts contain bisphenol S, which is also a potential endocrine disruptor but even less is known about it than BPA.

Here are some tips from the EWG to reduce your exposure to BPA and potentially bisphenol S and other chemicals in receipt paper:
  • Minimize receipt collection by declining receipts at gas pumps, ATMs and other machines when possible.
  • Store receipts separately in an envelope in a wallet or purse.
  • Never give a child a receipt to hold or play with.
  • After handling a receipt, wash hands before preparing and eating food (a universally recommended practice even for those who have not handled receipts).
  • Do not use alcohol-based hand cleaners after handling receipts. A recent study showed that these products can increase the skin's BPA absorption (Biedermann 2010).
  • Take advantage of store services that email or archive paperless purchase records.
  • Do not recycle receipts and other thermal paper. BPA residues from receipts will contaminate recycled paper.
  • If you are unsure, check whether paper is thermally treated by rubbing it with a coin. Thermal paper discolors with the friction; conventional paper does not.

Thursday, May 26, 2011


Do you know about Pangea Free Fridays?  Every Friday Pangea gives away a free product.  Last Friday they gave away a year's supply of Pangea products.  I couldn't get it posted in time but check back this Friday to see what's next.  You do have to enter the contest through Facebook but prizes range from a free product to many free products to lots of free samples to share with your friends.  If you haven't heard of Pangea but are looking for a great organic skincare company, check them out!



organic & fair trade



petroleum-based ingredients

sulfates or detergents

synthetic preservatives

artificial colors or fragrances


Pangea Organics has received 50 awards for everything from Best Product Performance (29 awards), to Environmental & Social Responsibility (10 awards), to Innovation in Packaging & Design (7 awards).  Most of their products are packaged in plantable packaging that contains flower or plant seeds.  Very cool!

Monday, May 23, 2011

We have tomatoes!!

One of my dreams/goals is to have a food garden.  Well, I'd love a rose and flower garden, too, but I really want to grown my own fruit and vegetables.  We started to plan it out this spring but decided to wait until the fall and give ourselves enough time to plan.  I decided to go ahead and start little by little so we started with tomatoes.  Kai helped me plant them, and his job is to remind Daddy to water the "matos" while I am out of town this week.

I am so excited about feeding my family and growing whole food!!

Friday, May 20, 2011

Homemade chicken nuggets

My kids are pretty good eaters. They go through phases but other times they out eat me. Lee often prefers quantity of food over quality so when he compliments one of my meals I know it is good. Recently, all three of them have raved over a new recipe I tried…chicken nuggets.

This is a breeze. I have a few chicken recipes that Lee has liked (and he does not really like chicken) but he prefers this hands down. He gives me a hard time if I fix it on a night he is not there to enjoy it. My kids clean their plates!

Cut up 2-3 chicken breasts into bite size pieces (2 should be plenty but I feel like I feed an army and need 3 to have any leftovers. I use a pair of kitchen sheers to speed it up).

Melt 1 TBS butter for every chicken breast you use

Coat the chicken pieces with the melted butter

Mix 1 cup of bread crumbs, 1 cup of parmesan cheese, and 1 tsp garlic salt

Coat the chicken with the bread/cheese mixture

Place chicken pieces on a baking sheet (they can be pretty close together)

Bake at 350 degrees for 15-20 min

*I like 409 brand bread crumbs and parmesan cheese. The cheese has no fillers or binders (ala Kraft) and the bread crumbs were the least processed that I could find at my chain grocery store.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Bacteria on surfaces: Steering wheel

Ok, you probably think I went off the deep end or have become a germaphobe.  I assure you that my home is neither spotless nor my floors mopped in a very improper amount of time.  I made this discovery by accident.  I accidently got something sticky on my hand while I was driving and then touched my steering wheel.  When I got home I grabbed a wet wipe and wiped everything off...much to my horror...the wipe was almost black.  I am very strict about washing my hands when I get home from work [the hospital], but I realized I don't always wash my hands after driving home from Target, or the local growers group, or the grocery store.  Sometimes I do...but not always.

Here's your challenge:  wipe your steering wheel.  It doesn't matter if it's a clorox wipe, wet wipe, or baby wipe...I bet you're going to be surprised.

Here is my second attempt just a couple of weeks later...

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Bacteria on surfaces: Shopping Bags

I love, love, love my reusable Environsax shopping bags.  I see lots of people with reusable shopping bags now!  It is so much easier to carry in 4-5 large bags vs. 12 small bags with 1-2 items.  I have a pretty good systems of taking my bags to the laundry room as soon as I am done with them and then back out to my car the next morning.

It wasn't until I did my last post on bacteria on purses that I started thinking about my shopping bags.  They go from the floorboard of my passenger side in the car to the shopping cart to the grocery store belt to the shopping cart to the back of the car to the floor of my kitchen.  On the inside is unwashed produce, bags of meat, wrappers, boxes...and then all of that goes to shelves of my refrigerator, pantry, cupboards, or counters.

If you want to reduce bacteria in your home and reduce your exposure to infection, make sure that you aren't setting your shopping bags on your counter...and make sure that you wash them regularly.  Another great feature of Environsax is that they are extemely easy to wash and clean! 

Monday, May 9, 2011

Bacteria on surfaces: Purses

Due to the number of colds we have had this reason I have been paying careful attention to bacteria-prone items and natural disinfectants. 

A few years ago, ABC reported on the bacteria found on purses. A microbiologist tested the bottoms of purses and found hundreds of thousands of bacteria present on the bags. Every single purse tested had some bacteria, most had tens of thousands, and a few had millions. Half of the purses were positive for coliform bacteria (indicating the possible presence of human/animal waste). Another sample of 50 purses confirmed that 1 in 4 were positive for E. coli.

You may not think you touch the bottom of your purse often or could get sick from it but think about where it has been…into public restrooms, the floorboard of your car, at your feet in a restaurant, in the shopping cart at the grocery store…and most likely then set on your counter.

To decrease spreading illness: clean your purse or tote bag (including briefcases and backpacks) regularly, don’t set it down on any surface where food will be prepared or eaten (this means tables, kitchen/breakroom counters, desks), wash your hands after handling your purse.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Kids lunches

Earlier this week I posted about being “that mom” and sending unusually healthy lunches to “school” with Kai. I say unusually healthy because of what I noticed most of the other kids eating. I only have to send lunch two days a week for Mothers Morning Out, and half the time Lee ends up having to pack it because I am too tired to pack it the night before. I completely understand packing an “easy lunch.” However, we have really tried to put a little more effort into it. Here are some ways you can quickly swap out some of the easy foods for healthier alternatives:

Containers: Find a good reusable lunch container. There are some really great options out there. Everything from BPA free to insulated to separate containers. Another option is reusable sandwich and snack bags. They range quite a bit in price but usually one bag costs the same as a months’ worth of plastic bags. I am trying to buy one each month instead of buying another box of Ziploc bags.

Bread: We have always used whole wheat but I am still amazed at how many grownups prefer white. Kids eat what they are taught. Make sure you buy bread made from “whole grains” not just wheat. Look for brands that contain no high fructose corn syrup and contain little or no added sugar. Better yet, make your own!

Juice: If you are going to send juice, send a thermos of 100% fruit juice instead of sugar-filled, expensive juice boxes.

Fruit: Instead of fruit snacks, send real fruit. It tastes better, is more nutritious, is more filling, and does not contain artificial colors and flavors. Produce like grapes, apples, and oranges have a longer shelf life so they can be bought ahead of time for lunches.

Snacks: Send crackers for chips. Look for whole grain baked crackers. Goldfish and Pepperidge Farm both have whole grain, healthier choices. Goldfish rainbow colors now uses all natural fruit and vegetable extracts for their colors.

PBJ: Almond, pecan, and cashew are great alternatives to peanut butter and less allergenic. Watch the sugar content of jellies.

Vegetables: There often are not any in most kids’ lunches! Add tomato and spinach leaves to turkey sandwiches. Send carrot sticks and hummus (Kai requests this often!). We love putting sweet cherry tomatoes in his lunch…and they never come back uneaten.

Dessert: Store-bought, processed snack cakes and pastries are full of some of the worst ingredients. I honestly do not send a dessert. Some healthier suggestions are JellO pudding cups or Greek yogurt with fruit. However, pudding cups are filled with preservatives and alternative sweeteners. Yogurt often contains tons of added sugar. I do not think Kai even knows what the word dessert means. Occasionally he wakes up asking for ice cream!! but that is about the only dessert he knows…and he usually only gets it for snacktime on the weekends.

Adapted from:  Healthy Lunch Box Swaps that are Good for Your Kids

Monday, May 2, 2011

"That Mom"

I know Kai’s teachers at Mothers Morning Out think that I am a fruit loop. I am THAT MOM. The mom that does not send juice or candy or much processed food for lunch. The mom that sends small toys for Valentine’s Day instead of candy. His teachers have even asked what some of the things are…like kale chips. They are super nice about it and rave about wishing it was their lunch…but I know they are teasing me.

Photo credit

They were so anxious to see what I was going to bring for his birthday lunch. Most parents bring cupcakes or cake, and I can always tell because Kai never naps. I did break down and bring Rice Krispy Treats, which is one of Kai (and Lee’s) favorites. I think his teacher’s were shocked that I brought a “dessert.” I think the other kids thought they were boring but it was definitely a treat for Kai. As I looked around, every single kid had juice boxes and most had highly processed foods.

I am that mom that sends fruit and vegetables. He might get a sandwich or crackers but over half of his lunch consists of whole foods like tomatoes, clementines, carrots. The best part is that he eats it! He does not know any different and those are actually some of his favorite foods. He has even turned down cookies before, and he would eat several clementines every day if I let him.

I am the mom that has never even given him a sip of Coke. For that matter we do not even keep it in our house. The choices are milk or water, and occasionally he gets organic juice for a snack if he needs more hydration. Orange juice for breakfast is a very special treat. Caitlin is 15 months and still not had juice (that I know of).

So yeah, I am that mom. I may very well be a fruit loop but I am so glad to have kids that eat healthy and love it.

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Myths about organic food

Organic farming is not as productive as conventional farming and requires more land to produce the same amount of food. If the world switched to organic farming, 10 million square miles of forest would need to be cut down.

A few studies have shown more nutrients in organic food. In actuality, what makes the biggest difference in nutrients is how long it sits on the shelf. After one week, spinach has lost about half of its folate.

Organic food may not always taste better…if it’s flown halfway around the world. Locally grown produce in season probably has fuller taste.

You still need to wash organic produce thoroughly under running water. All produce is susceptible to bacteria. Soil and runoff water can be contaminated with E.coli, as well as the transportation and storage of produce.

Organic companies are not necessarily small farms or eco-companies. General Mills owns Cascadian Farms, Kraft owns Back to Nature and Boca Burger, Kellogg’s owns Morningstar Farms. Whole Foods sold roughly $1 billion in produce last year; only about 16% was grown locally.

Organic is not necessarily better for you…not if it is organic chips, organic soda, or organic cookies Cane sugar is still sugar and fried chips are still fried. I have even seen organic poptarts!

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Ugh...sick again

You know when you all have of these plans...all of these intentions...all of these goals...and then you get sick...again.  I have not had this many colds or sinus infections in such a short amount of time in a very, very long time. 

I have so many things I want to write about.  I've started an Etsy business, I even have a couple of posts already written.  However, as soon as the kids are in bed, we crash.  Everyone's sick...again. 

I think the most frustrating thing is that we're supposed to be living healthier, greener, cleaner...and it just is not foolproof.  Do you ever feel like you find something that works...but then you skip one time and you are back to square one?  Honestly, ever time someone in our family gets sick, I run through a few things that I think make a difference...vitamin D drops, probiotic, vitamins, etc...and there is always one I have forgetting for 1-2 days...but it is not always the same thing.  Boy, talk about frustrating.  It is just hard wondering what is really working, making a difference...and what is just a placebo or lacking "clinical" difference. 

Ok, done venting.  I am just sorry I did not have more to update.  I will really be back up and running soon!

Friday, April 22, 2011

Earth Day

Earth Day is one of my favorite new holidays!!  I know that sounds very "tree-hugger-ish."  I love that there is a day that pushes change and eco-friendly options...and sales.  One of my favorite cloth diaper (and MUCH MORE) retailers, Cotton Babies, is giving $10 off $50 for four days with everyday free shipping...and no, Lee, I didn't order anything.  I just love that eating organic, buying healthy products, and living better is more affordable at least one day out of the year. 

The hospital where I work has decided that now they are a "green" employer because "it's the right thing to do."  While I do have issues with their reasons, I am very exited that there may be some opportunities to be more involved in living "greener" at my place of employment...to make an impact on patients...little babies...and the community we serve.  We had an Earth Day fair and it was quite successful.  I hope to be more involved next year, but I was so very excited to see my local growers group there!!!

I copied this idea from Mommy is Green, but here are some of the changes you can make today to celebreate Earth Day:
1.  Using essential oils to freshen the air instead of candles or products that contain synthetic fragrances (phthalates).  I don't use essential oils but only use clean burning candles and absolutely no synthetic fragrances.
2. Swapping traditional soaps that contain synthetic ingredients like triclosan for castile soap. I re-use foam soap pumps from organic hand soaps that I've bought (Jason Kids Foaming Soap and Clean Well orange foaming soap) and then refill with 1/4 castile soap and 3/4 water.
3. Giving up store-bought bottled water for filtered water in a reusable bottle.  We've done this for almost 10 years, but have avoided all bottled water for about 2 years....although I still swear Dasani puts something irresistable in their water.
4. Bringing reusable (washable too) bags shopping. I love, love, love my Environsax bags.  Some stores like Target have started giving 5 cents for each bag you bring, but I really try to always use mostly reusable bags and reuse any plastic bags in bathroom trash cans or to collect recycling to take out to the recycling bins.  Some stores like EarthFare have completely abandoned using plastic bags.
5. Cloth diapering for the majority.  We use cloth diapers 100% of the time at home, 75% of the time running errands, and 50% of the time travelling.
6. Using soap nuts to wash my laundry.  Ok, so I would love to be on board with a more natural laundry detergent but I tried one and was NOT impressed.  Nothing like Tide to get out stains...seriously, it is the only thing that worked with our cloth diapers.
7. Replacing paper towels with washable rags most of the time.  I need to be better at this.  With kids it is so irresistable to grab a paper towel.
8. Switching my toxic cleaners for more natural ones (e.i., using oxygen bleach in place of chlorine bleach).  I use chlorine bleach for only two purposes:  sanitizing cloth diapers once every 1-3 months only if I have ammonia issues and to clean the jet system in our bathtub.  Other than that I only use baking soda and vinegar to clean...except for Clorox wipes (gasp) and Scrubbing Bubbles flushable toilet bowl pads.  Toilet bowl brushes with the bristles just sitting by the toilet simply disgust me.
9. Consuming and buying less. If I don't really need it I don't take it home.  Amen.  Lee would disagree with this, but I really, really have done well with only buying things that I really, really like.  He doesn't know how much I do pass up :)
10. Buying stainless steel, glass, or wood instead of plastic whenever possible when a new item is needed. This isn't always feasible but I love using these materials over plastic.  Honestly, I can't remember the last time I opted for plastic except for popsicle trays for the freezer.

Here are some of my own changes:
--slowly increasing stash of reusable sandwich/snack bags for lunches
--using wool dryer balls
--recycling usually 2 bins of items every 1-1.5 weeks
--trying to limit garbage to 1-2 bags a week
--donating toys
--buying 25-50% of our groceries from a local growers group
--using cloth trainers in addition to cloth diapers
--using leftover drinking water for plants
--avoiding artificial dyes and preservatives
--growing vegetables


I am back!!  I am so sorry I was gone for so long.  I had a very long six weeks at work precepting two pharmacy students and a pharmacy resident.  In the midst of that, our nanny of almost 2 years moved to Maryland...and then I broke out in shingles, lol.  It's been a long, busy few weeks!!  I am very excited to start blogging again and have lots of new ideas.  Talk to you soon!!!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

On break

Sorry...I've been meaning to come on here and let everyone know I would be back shortly.  It looks like it might be a little longer than I expected.  I have quite a few work projects and now need to find a new nanny.  Be back soon!!

Friday, March 4, 2011

Diet Coke dangers

There is a new study being released by the NIH and Purdue University that suggests that aspartame actually leads to weight gain!  It's all over the news and health websites this morning.  Everyone eating a salad and diet coke or sugar-free aspartame flavored yogurt needs to reconsider that they may be shooting themselves in the foot.  They may actually be worsening their plight to lose or maintain weight. 

I can safely say that this is one ingredient that is 100% absent from our house.  We do not consume soft drinks.  Neither child has had so much as a sip (that I am aware of).  We do not use any sugar-free foods.  I limit the amount of sugar they eat but when they do consume it I avoid alternative sweeteners.  We opt for unsweetened products like full-fat organic yogurt (or homemade) and sweeten with honey or fruit.  Sometimes you really have to read labels closely to see what sweetners it contains.  Notice the popular vitamins in the picture.  Here are a few articles that give the details of the NIH study results:
Dr. Mercola's article

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Cloth diapers: $$$$

After researching several diaper cost calculators and estimates, the average cost of disposable diapers is around $75 as best as I can tell.  At some point I might go back through my son's diapering costs and come up with a more accurate amount.  This cost should also include disposable wipes and diaper pail refill costs.  That means that we would have spent $900 the past year on just diapers.  By my best estimate, that means we have already saved $400-500 dollars in one year alone, and I am predicting that we probably have at least another 12 months of diapers.  The savings is not including the money we will also recoup by selling her cloth diapers (yes, there is actually a popular market with 50-70% resell value). 

Monday, February 28, 2011

McDonald's Oatmeal

Photo credit
Have you heard about the newest item on McDonald's menu?  Oatmeal.  With maple syrup and fruit.  Thankfully it has finally started to get some attention.  I am entirely in favor of McDonald's adding healthier items.  McDonald's is the only food option available in the hospital on the weekends, except for a small cafe across the street that charges $8 for a salad or sandwich.  I think McDonalds got this one wrong.

Their oatmeal contains 290 calories, 10 calories less than a cheeseburger or Egg McMuffin.  Without the brown sugar it still contains more calories than a McDonalds hamburger.  It contains as much sugar as a Snickers bar, and it has 21 ingredients, including natural flavor, barley malt extract and caramel color.  It also comes with cream, which contains 7 of the ingredients (2 are dairy).

McDonalds argues that people add all sorts of stuff to their oatmeal at home and that most of the sugar is from brown sugar (duh) and fruit sugars.  Still, I would much rather control the amount of brown sugar I am adding, and you specifically have to ask not to get it. 

One of the babysteps we have made is making old fashioned oatmeal.  It really does taste better, and I was shocked to see how much sugar was in Quaker Instant flavors.  We just start it a few minutes before breakfast and everyone gets to add their own topics...with known ingredients and known amounts.

Thanks to Mark Bittman, NY times food columnist and food expert, for putting some heat on McDonalds for this decision!

Friday, February 25, 2011


This winter one of my greatest goals in life is to keep us healthy.  Washing our hands is one of the very most, if not THE most, important way to prevent the spread of infectious diseases.  Antibacterial soap has soared in recent popularity.  However, it is really a myth that you need a good antibacterial soap.  For one reason, many infections are caused by viruses, which are immune to antibiotics and antibacterial soaps.  Here are a few other myths about handwashing:

Myth: The use of any soap is better than plain water in handwashing.

Soap isn't designed to kill bacteria. It acts as a surfactant to lift dirt off of surfaces so it can be rinsed away.

Myth: Hot water is better than cold water for effective handwashing.

Scientists with the Joint Bank Group/Fund Health Services Department pointed out that various temperatures had "no effect on transient or resident bacterial reduction." They found no evidence that hot water had any benefit, and noted that it might increase the "irritant capacity" of some soaps, causing contact dermatitis.

Myth: Hand sanitizers kill germs more effectively than soap.

The efficacy of alcohol-based hand-hygiene products is affected by several factors, including the type of alcohol used, concentration of alcohol, contact time, volume of alcohol used and whether the hands are wet when the alcohol is applied. Applying small volumes (i.e., 0.2-0.5 mL) of alcohol to the hands is not more effective than washing hands with plain soap and water.
Source: www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/rr5116a1.htm

Myth: Frequent handwashing or use of hand sanitizers promotes healthy skin.

Occupationally related contact dermatitis can develop from frequent and repeated use of hand hygiene products, exposure to chemicals and glove use.
Source: www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/rr5217a1.htm

Myth: Wearing gloves replaces handwashing.

Wearing gloves does not eliminate the need for handwashing. Hand hygiene should be performed immediately before donning gloves. Gloves can have unapparent defects or can be torn during use, and hands can become contaminated during glove removal. In addition, bacteria can multiply rapidly in the moist environments underneath gloves.
Source: www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/rr5217a1.htm

Myth: Alcohol gels are an effective means to reduce infection.

Alcohols have very poor activity against bacterial spores, protozoan oocysts and certain nonenveloped (nonlipophilic) viruses.
Source: www.fda.gov/Food/FoodSafety/RetailFoodProtection/IndustryandRegulatoryAssistanceandTrainingResources/ucm135577.htm

Myth: Soap with triclosan is an effective antimicrobial for handwashing.

A recent study compared an antibacterial soap containing triclosan with a non-antibacterial soap and concluded that the former did not provide any additional benefit. Concerns have been raised about the use of triclosan, because of the development of bacterial resistance to low concentrations of biocide and cross-resistance to some antibiotics.
Source: http://whqlibdoc.who.int/publications/2009/9789241597906_eng.pdf

One last mistake that the majority of people is not washing your hands long enough.  You really need to wash and scrub for at least 20 sec.  We are taught at the hospital I work at to sing Row Row Your Boat or Happy Birthday.  You do not want to go overboard and become obsessive about washing your hands because that can actually strip the natural oils from your skin and actually destroy the protective barrier of your hands, leaving them dry and cracked and open to infection.  However, you should wash your hands:

"when they look dirty, and prior to, or after, performing certain tasks that could spread infection, such as in these instances:

Before and after preparing food, especially when handling raw meat and poultry

Before eating

Before and after treating wounds or taking/giving medicine

Before touching a sick or injured person

Before inserting contact lenses

After using the toilet or changing a diaper

After touching an animal, its toys, leashes, or waste

After blowing your nose or coughing/sneezing into your hands

After handling garbage or potentially contaminated waste "
From Dr. Mercola's hand hygeine article 2/25/11 and  Beckers ASC Review

Monday, February 21, 2011

Is organic worth it?

Do you ever get tired of trying to eat right, live right, be healthy?? Do you ever wonder if it really makes a difference? Honestly, I get so tired of trying to be healthy sometimes. I did not feel awful before. It was so easy to fix canned, frozen, microwavable foods. I could enjoy a Coke, mmmm.

Once you start cutting out processed foods and sugar, it makes it so hard to go back. Now when I eat sugar, I feel AWFUL. I feel like a gain a pound each time I eat a tiny piece of candy. I get a headache, sometimes for days. I do not sleep as well when I start eating less healthy. Sometimes it really does seem like it has to be all or none…forget the baby steps.

Photo credit
I am sometimes envious of people that can drink a cup of coffee at night and still sleep, or eat a 6 lb bag of gummy bears and not feel sick. I do think it is important not to be too legalistic about being healthy. However, I know I do truly feel better when I eat right, even if I cannot tell at the time. All it takes is one heavenly chocolate covered raspberry to remind me how little sugar I can tolerate anymore. While it is a pain, I am glad that my body can tell a difference. I am glad I do not tolerate junk food as well. Here are two more babysteps towards eating right regularly…

Friday, February 18, 2011

Consigning clothes

I thought I had more posts scheduled to get me through last week.  I just now discovered that it has been a week since my last post.  Looks like I've got my work cut out for me this weekend.  It has been an extremely busy month.  I had two pharmacy students and second-year pediatric pharmacy resident with me for the past 5 weeks.  At nights I have been utterly exhausted.  Nonetheless I still try to work on a few posts a week.  However, this past week I have been working on getting clothes ready for a huge kids consignment sale.  The sale happens twice a year and consigners get a 60-75% return on their items, which is HUGE for consignment. 

What does that have to do with this blog?  Wellll, all of my evenings last week were consumed with tagging clothes, putting them on coat hangers, and getting them ready to drop off.  I had so much that I had to get Lee to get it all in my car.  It was also on my mind because I think it is a way to recycle, give to others, save money, and be frugal.  While many of the things I write about on this blog have to do with food or organic living, I think buying used clothes is a great way to benefit our family's effort to live better.  We can use the money from consigning to buy bigger clothes or even use it towards buying organic food.  We are also helping others save money.  You can also choose to discount your clothes on the last day or donate whatever does not sell.  I do take a lot to Goodwill ever year but I am really enjoying this extra way to provide for my family.  Some of our favorite outfits that our kids have worn have come from this sale.  I have so much fun buying things that are in great condition that I could not afford at full price.  Lee hates it because I am spending money (period) and because I am taking away from my profit.  However, I secretly laugh with glee whenever he compliments Kai on his suave orange jacket or Caitlin on her floral party pants...both from the sale!

Monday, February 14, 2011

Product Review: Envirosax

Many retail stores are moving to recyclable bag incentives.  One store in our area has completely stopped carrying plastic grocery bags.  You have to bring your own or take your groceries home in paper bags or boxes.  Target now gives a 5 cent credit for each bag that you bring.  Publix has even replaced my old recyclable bags for free when they start to fray. 

I have a whole floor board full of bags on my passenger side.  It works great as long as I remember to bring them into the store with me and as long as I don't have passengers up front.  They take up room and are often piled in a messy heap.  Then they get strewn all over my kitchen after I carry groceries in. 

The solution??  Envirosax!  These are well, revolutionary.  I ordered some off a discount deal of the day website for 50% off.  They are all Sesame Street characters, but there is a whole line of different designs and themes.  The best thing is that these bags roll up to same length as my cell phone.  I can throw them in my purse, in the storage pocket behind the passenger or driver seat, or toss a couple on the floor of the car with plenty of room for a passenger or other bags. 

It takes about 5 seconds to roll them back up, and they come with instructions.  You trifold them, roll, and snap...and then hide them so said children do not get a kick out of unsnapping them.  They have an easy shoulder strap that fits nicely and comfortably over your shoulder.  The other thing that I like is that they are very large.  Some of my other bags do not expand much and do not hold more that a couple of items.  You can load these babies up!  Once my other bags wear out, I think these are all I will use.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Milk allergy

A couple of weeks ago, I was worried that Caitlin had a milk protein allergy.  I had just weaned her and had switched her to 50% cows milk.  She suddenly started waking up in the middle of the night screaming.  This happened several nights in a row.  We tried making her room warmer, tried backing off on the cows milk, tried ibuprofen.  She had no other signs of illness, other than more dirty diapers than usual...which fit milk allergy...and a million other things...or nothing.  The only thing that remotely helped was the ibuprofen.  Lee asked if I thought there was any chance it was just teething, but she did not act like she was teething.  Neither of our children have woken up in the middle of the night, for more than one night, due to teething, that I know of.  I decided to check her gums the next morning anyway.......4 teeth!!  One tooth had broken the surface, and there were 3 other tooth bumps.  We continued to give her ibuprofen before bedtime, and she immediately went back to sleeping through the night.

In the meantime, I had to make a plan in case it was a milk allergy.  It didn't fit the picture, but I wanted to be prepared.  Some people feel that cows milk does not need to be a major part of our diet.  While I agree, both of my kids are milk hogs, particularly around this age.  It is comforting and soothing to them.  They honestly get excited about a cup of milk.  So what was I going to do if I was out of breastmilk and she could not drink cows milk??

I gathered my options.  One was to keep nursing her (not an option, she was essentially completely weaned).  Two, toddler formula.  I do not believe formula is poison by any means, but it is not the healthiest option in my opinion.  Many formulas contain high amounts of corn syrup and other sugars that I am trying to avoid.  Then there were milk substitutes...almond, coconut, soy, and rice being the most common.  I have concerns about soy products containing phytoestrogens.  The evidence is controversial, but there are reports of it increasing cancer risk.  Although this is highly anectdotal, I have also heard that rice milk contains trace amounts of arsenic.  It also does not have much fat at all, which is a good thing for babies.  I could not find any dangers of almond or coconut.  They are probably the closest in nutrients and calories to cows milk.  I was not worried about calcium intake as that is pretty easy to supplement, but I needed something that tasted similar to milk and that would give her the fat, protein, and calories that cows milk provides.

In the end, we decided to continue increasing the amount of cows milk, and she tolerated it just fine.  She loves it...as long as she gets her nightly ibuprofen fix.  All this to say, I feel much better prepared if I were to have to make a switch.  If you find yourself in this position, do your own research, but know that there are several other alternatives to cows milk.  Goats milk is also very similar to cows milk and much easier to digest.  There is a chance that if it is a true milk protein allergy that goats milk will also be allergenic.  However, if you only have an intolerance and cost is not prohibitive, it would also be a good option.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Inflammatory foods

This is an interesting article from the conscious life. It discusses the top 10 inflammatory foods to avoid.

These foods can increase your risk of heart disease, cancer, diabetes, and who knows what else. Are there any of your favorite foods that made the list?


Cooking oils

Trans fats

Dairy products

Feedlot-raised meat

Red meat and processed meat


Refined grains

Artificial food additives

Common food allergens like gluten

Monday, February 7, 2011

Hydrogen peroxide ear drops

This week I have decided to write about natural home remedies that I have tried recently. Next up is hydrogen peroxide. I think I first heard about using it as ear drops on Dr. Mercola’s site. In another effort to ward off viruses and the flu this winter I have researched this use and personally tried it.

In the 1920’s, it was first hypothesized that cold and flu viruses enter through the ear canal. Research in the 1930’s showed success with using hydrogen peroxide in dealing with colds and flu. The experts on Health911.com have found remarkable results in curing the flu and cold within 12-14 hours of administration.

The instructions are to administer a few drops of 3% hydrogen peroxide into each infected ear (I would do both). It starts working within 2-3 minutes. There will be some bubbling and in some cases mild stinging. Wait until the bubbling and stinging subside (usually a few minutes), then drain the peroxide onto a tissue or cotton pad and then repeat the process in the other ear. To cure the flu, it is recommended to repeat the process two or more times at 1-2 hour intervals until there is no bubbling when putting the hydrogen peroxide in ear(s).

There are not many “home remedies” that I follow, but this is one that I might continue. This morning I only had bubbling in one ear, and it was on the side of my head that is sore (sore ear and sore throat only on that side). I will report back with the results!

Friday, February 4, 2011

Gargling with salt water

Did your mom ever make you do this while growing up? I remember doing it vividly…but I can’t ever remember whether it worked. It wasn’t until recently after several sore throats in a row that I could not shake that I started to look into it again. I was also trying to avoid a course of antibiotics if possible.

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From what I learned it works in two different ways by the same mechanism: osmosis. The salt water pulls water from the bacteria, causing them to dehydrate (shrivel up and die, suckers!!). It also pulls water from the inflamed, swollen areas in the back of your throat. One good tip that I read is that it is not a one-time deal. You need to do this multiple times a day to kill all of the bacteria and keep the inflammation down. A good ratio is ½-1 teaspoon of salt per 8 ounces. I have also read to just saturate a small glass of water with salt to the point that there is a very tiny amount on the bottom that will not dissolve.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Mommy, what's that?

I was standing in line at the grocery store when I heard Kai say, "Mommy, what's that??" in the sweetest little sing-song voice ever. He was point to (gasp) doughnuts...powdered sugar covered doughnuts!! Worse yet, I had some on the conveyor belt for work. They were buy one, get one free! I was already mortified at myself that I was buying them for work. What was I going to do?

No, I do not buy my children everything they ask for. Honestly, I almost always say no if there is any pestering or whining. I learned a valuable lesson. One, it was not worth sneaking them. Two, I am still taking baby steps. Now, I could have taken the "you can't always have everything you ask for" route. Or I could have just said "no." Or I could have given in because it was just easier. Did Kai get his doughnuts?

In the end I decided that I would buy a bag for him. It was a special treat. The only other time he has had a doughnut is at church (that I am aware of). Yes, it was just a bag of doughnuts. However, I am trying to avoid giving him junk food, not raise his awareness of it. He is also extremely sugar sensitive, even sensitive to fruit sugars. I still want him to be able to teach his own body what to prefer. In my experience so far, even cutting out processed sweets for a short period of time has had profound effects. I shared one doughnut with Kai the next afternoon and I ended up with a nasty headache. It didn't seem to slow Kai down one bit, but it definitely reminded me how much better I felt without it.

While I would prefer that he always asks for strawberries and apples, I feel that being realistic is important. I have to remind myself that it isn't always worth being legalistic. I don't eat perferct 100% of the time either.  He was so excited that I actually bought them, and it brought a little sunshine to his day. He is probably none the worse for it, and maybe one day he will choose something healthier...right??

Monday, January 31, 2011


Not sure what eggs to buy or what free-run, cage-free means?  Hopefully this will help:

Brown eggs: Eggshell color has nothing to do with the quality, flavor, nutritive value, cooking characteristic, or shell thickness of an egg. Shell color only depends on the breed of hen.

Omega 3 enhanced eggs: Eggs are from hens fed a diet flax seed or fish oils. Some experts say the omega 3 is unstable and quickly becomes rancid.

Organic eggs: Eggs produced by hens fed certified organic grains without conventional pesticides, fertilizers, growth hormones, or antibiotics.

Free-run or Cage-free eggs: Eggs produced by hens that are able to move about the floor of the barn and have nesting boxes and perches.

Free-range eggs: Eggs produced in a similar environment as cage-free eggs but hens have access to outdoor runs as well.

There is a lot of controversy about nutritional value of conventional vs. organic eggs. Controversy also surrounds the color of the egg yolk. The color of the egg yolk depends mostly on the diet of the hen. Hens that eat grains and cornmeal tend to have lighter-colored yolks. Hens that eat plants, produce, and grub tend to have darker yellow to orange-colored yolks.  Eggs with darker yolks are reported to be healthier and tastier.  Some studies have reported chemical differences and others have not.  Even if free range eggs are not healthier, I believe that the living and food conditions offer an advantage.  I love seeing the different hues of the shells and size of the eggs. 

Friday, January 28, 2011

Coconut macaroons!!!

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I am sooooo making these this weekend.  Usually I like to make things before I post them but I am gladly making an exception.  These look amazing.  If you like Amazon, look for their organic coconut flakes to go on sale and get a discount and free shipping with subscribe and save.  You can spread shipments out up to 6 months and you can cancel at any time.  Why organic coconut?  Look at the list of inactive ingredients and preservatives on a bag of sweetened coconut.  Organic cocnut also tastes amazing to say the least.  Lee and I usually get sick eating it by the cup when we open a fresh bag. 

Most macaroon recipes also use condensed milk and white sugar.  These ingredients are so much healthier!  Here's the recipe from Jordan Rubin's Extraordinary Health website:

Coco Macaroons

Makes about 4-5 dozen


7 cups of dried coconut flakes

2 cups Rapadura or raw honey

6 Tablespoons extra virgin coconut oil

1 teaspoon organic vanilla extract


In a large mixing bowl, mix the Rapadura or raw honey with the coconut oil and vanilla extract until well mixed. Slowly add the coconut flakes. Blend together well or knead with your hands if necessary. Drop mixture by the tablespoons onto baking sheets. Place in the oven with just the oven light and let them set for 24 hours or you may use a dehydrator set on 105 degrees Fahrenheit for 24 hours. Serve. Store the remaining macaroons.

Recipes courtesy of Extraordinary Health team

Monday, January 24, 2011

Antibiotics in agriculture

The FDA’s Center for Veterinary Medicine is now requiring meat producers to report on antibiotic use. For the first time it released a report on the amount of antibiotics sold for use in food animal production. The aim is to curb the growth in antibiotic resistance. In 2009, almost 29 million pounds of antibiotics sold for use in animal agriculture. The danger in widespread use is the emergence of drug-resistant organisms or superbugs. The FDA released a draft recommendation on judicious use of antibiotics that states that the overall weight of evidence supports “the conclusion that using medically important antimicrobial drugs for production or growth enhancing purposes (i.e., non-therapeutic or subtherapeutic uses) in food-producing animals is not in the interest of protecting or promoting the public health.”

It is not often that I agree completely with the FDA but this is a WIN!


Friday, January 21, 2011


Just saw a great tip on oatmeal.  Do you like your oatmeal sweetened but without the sugar and calories?  Right before it is ready to come off the stove (yes, I am talking about the slow cook oats you actually have to cook), mash up a banana and stir it in.  I have not personally tried this, and I do like to try what I recommend first.  However, I thought that sounded like a really good idea.  We have switched to old fashioned oatmeal for awhile now.  All it took was reading the list of ingredients on the instant oatmeal to realize how many teaspoons of sugar you were getting.  I do admit to sprinkling just a *little* brown sugar on top, which is why I think a banana would be perfect.  Thanks, Maryea! 

Visit Maryea’s blog at http://happyhealthymama.com.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011


Water makes up about 60% of our body weight. Every system in our body depends on water. It also flushes toxins out, carries nutrients, and provides a moist environment for ear, nose, and throat tissues. Lack of water leads to dehydration, and even mild forms can drain energy and make one tired.

Every day we lose water through breathing, perspiring, and excretion. Understandably, it must be replenished for our body to function properly. So how much does the average person need? Most doctors recommend 8-9 cups. Here are 3 common ways to also estimate it:

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Replacement approach. The average urine output is 6.3 cups/day. You lose an additional 4 cups through insensible losses (breathing, sweating, bowel movements). Food usually accounts for accounts for 20% of your total fluid intake, so if you consume 8 cups of water a day along with your normal diet, you will typically replace your lost fluids.

Eight 8-ounce glasses. Another approach is the 8 x 8 rule. It is not necessarily supported by scientific evidence but it serves as an easy guideline to remember how much to drink.

Dietary recommendations. The Institute of Medicine advises men consume 13 cups of total beverages and women consume 9 cups of total beverages a day.

The most important thing is to remember to drink enough fluid so that you rarely feel thirsty and produce enough urine that is colorless or slightly yellow. You may also need to increase your total fluid intake when you exercise, live in hot climates, during illness (especially fever, vomiting, or diarrhea), and during pregnancy/breastfeeding.


Monday, January 17, 2011


In the South, we call soda “Coke.” I once asked my brother in law to get me a coke. He came back with a Sprite. Here, a Coke is a coke and a Sprite is a coke. To this day, I truly believe there is nothing like a cold Coke on a hot day. A part of me is still sad that I have given up drinking soft drinks.

Here are some of the reasons our whole family has given up (or never been given) soft drinks. They have an alarming amount of sugar, calories, and harmful additives with virtually no nutritional value. Studies have shown an association to osteoporosis, obesity, tooth decay, and heart disease. Do you ever wonder why so many people can’t lose weight and have health problems? Well, soft drinks account for more than 1/4th of all drinks consumed in the United States!

Here is what is consumed in a soda:

Phosphoric acid: May interfere with the body’s ability to use calcium, which can lead to osteoporosis or softening of the teeth and bones. Phosphoric acid also neutralizes the hydrochloric acid in your stomach, which can interfere with digestion, making it difficult to utilize nutrients.

Sugar: Soft drink manufacturers are the largest single user of refined sugar in the United States. It is a proven fact that sugar increases insulin levels, which can lead to high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, weight gain, premature aging and many more negative side effects. Most sodas include over 100% of the RDA of sugar.

Aspartame: This chemical is used as a sugar substitute in diet soda. There are over 92 different health side effects associated with aspartame consumption including brain tumors, birth defects, diabetes, emotional disorders, and epilepsy/seizures. Further, when aspartame is stored for long periods of time or kept in warm areas it changes to methanol, an alcohol that converts to formaldehyde and formic acid, which are known carcinogens.

Caffeine: Caffeinated drinks can cause jitters, insomnia, high blood pressure, irregular heartbeat, elevated blood cholesterol levels, vitamin and mineral depletion, and perhaps some form of cancer.

The average American drinks an estimated 56 gallons of soft drinks each year. One can of soda has about 7-10 teaspoons of sugar, 150 calories or more, 30-55 mg of caffeine, and is loaded with artificial food colors (Hello, Mountain Dew) and sulphites. In the past 10 years, soft drink consumption among children has almost doubled in the United States.

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I almost feel odd that my oldest is almost 3 years old and never had a sip of soda. I am proud, but left out in a good way. I eat lunch with several co-workers and 9 out of 10 times I am the only one in the group not drinking a soda. The others are eating yogurt (with 6 teaspoons of added sugar) and salads…with their coke zero. I understand the caffeine addiction (don’t talk to me about my coffee habit), but I can’t quite overlook all of the other additives. I have heard phenomenal stories of people losing pounds and pounds of weight and overcoming diseases and conditions just by cutting out soda. Next time you crave that “Coke” consider everything that you are getting. It’s not easy to let go of our favorite beverages, but I truly believe it is one of the worst culprits that I have cut out. Now if I drink half a cup of Coke, I will have a migraine for 3 days. Yes, honey, I really can make good decisions!! (My husband has been Coke-free for over 10 years and I have cut them out for over a year. Our children have yet to even see one).

Adapted from Oleda.com

Friday, January 14, 2011


Superfoods naturally concentrate important nutrients and antioxidants for overall health. Changes in diet to include more of these foods have positively impacted conditions such as age-related macular degeneration. Many of these foods also have high fiber content, and there are virtually no side effects or toxicity (in moderation!). Some have antioxidants liked to a reduced risk of cancer and others have important anti-inflammatory properties. Almost all of them are chock-full of vitamins and minerals, too.





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Wild Salmon


Green or black tea


Yogurt with probiotics










Sweet Potatoes

Adapted from Extraordinary Health.com

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Getting older

Have you ever wondered what makes you live longer? How do you get to be over a 100??  I sure hope that all of these babysteps at least help me live a long life.  The following is adapted from Dr. Mercola's article on living longer:

Bernando LaPallo, age 109, has written a book called Age Less, Live More. He offers proof that “living and eating the way nature intended is rewarded with a long life.” His father told him that “health should be your first priority, and in order to do that, you eat properly.” LaPallo says in order to do that “you have to eat properly—not a bunch of stirred up, boiled-to-death food.”

The oldest man in America, Walter Breunig, is 114 years old. His advice includes proper food choices, abstinence from alcohol, daily outdoor exercise, a spiritual and optimistic outlook on life, and “taking things in stride.” (Yes, honey, I need to work on that last one!).

His daily diet consists of:


Fruit (especially blueberries and cantaloupe)




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Clean water

Cinnamon tea

Leafy green vegetables make up 2/3rd of his daily diet, and he does not touch processed foods. He takes one baby aspirin a day and no other medications. I love what he says about growing up: “When we were kids, we ate what was on the tables. Crusts of bread or whatever it was. You ate what they put on your plate, and that’s all you got.”

Monday, January 10, 2011

Inactive ingredients

Here is a great list of inactive ingredients, their uses, and their dangers:

Parabens Heavily used preservatives in the cosmetic industry; used in an estimated 13,200 cosmetic and skin care products. Studies implicate their connection with cancer because their hormone-disrupting qualities mimic estrogen and could disrupt your body’s endocrine system.

Mineral Oil, Paraffin, and Petrolatum These petroleum products coat the skin like plastic – clogging pores and creating a build-up of toxins. They can slow cellular development, creating earlier signs of aging. They’re implicated as a suspected cause of cancer. Plus, they can disrupt hormonal activity. When you think about black oil pumped from deep underground, ask yourself why you’d want to put that kind of stuff on your skin…

Sodium laurel or lauryl sulfate (SLS), also known as sodium laureth sulfate (SLES) Found in over 90% of personal care products! They break down your skin’s moisture barrier, potentially leading to dry skin with premature aging. And because they easily penetrate your skin, they can allow other chemicals easy access. SLS combined with other chemicals may become a "nitrosamine" – a potent carcinogen.

Acrylamide Found in many facial creams. Linked to mammary tumors.

Propylene glycol Common cosmetic moisturizer and carrier for fragrance oils. May cause dermatitis and skin irritation. May inhibit skin cell growth. Linked to kidney and liver problems.

Phenol carbolic acid Found in many lotions and skin creams. Can cause circulatory collapse, paralysis, convulsions, coma, and even death from respiratory failure.

Dioxane Hidden in ingredients such as PEG, polysorbates, laureth, ethoxylated alcohols. Very common in personal care products. These chemicals are often contaminated with high concentrations of highly volatile 1,4-dioxane that’s easily absorbed through the skin. Its carcinogenicity was first reported in 1965, and later confirmed in studies including one from the National Cancer Institute in 1978. Nasal passages are considered extremely vulnerable, making it, in my opinion, a really bad idea to use these things on your face.

Toluene May be very poisonous! Made from petroleum and coal tar… found in most synthetic fragrances. Chronic exposure linked to anemia, lowered blood cell count, liver or kidney damage…May affect a developing fetus.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Pnk eye

I mentioned earlier this week how we had been passing around colds constantly. I also brought home pink eye. That is a contagious little sucker. Kai got it. A week later, Kai and Caitlin got it. A week later I got it and Lee started to get it. We decided that it was a good thing that they put so much in bottle. They know everyone is going to get it plus we probably wasted half the bottle trying to get eye drops in a 2 year old.

Why am I writing about pink eye? One because it so common among children, and two, because there is not always an organic alternative. The tricky thing is that pink eye can be viral (no medication needed) or bacterial (5-7 days of eye drops). There is a school of thought that even bacterial infections should be treated without medication if at all possible. This line of thinking irritates me, especially as a pharmacist ;) Now, I am not a pill pusher even though I am a pharmacist by trade. Since becoming more organic, I am even less of a pill pusher. However, not taking someone when there is a clear indication for it, sends me to the nearest soapbox.

One reason to treat pink eye as a bacterial infection is because it will clear up in less than 24 hours if treated appropriately. Two, children usually are not allowed back in their classroom without 24 hours of treatment. Three, if it is bacterial and not treated, it will continue to be contagious and extremely symptomatic. Four, the eye drops are absorbed topically, not systemically, so there are no untoward effects like killing gut flora.

This is one time when I would hand downs recommend the “non-crunchy” alternative. Every single one of us was better in hours after the eye drops. Most bacterial infections do not get better on their own, and many of them can result in very serious infections if untreated. Now if only we had devised the perfect system to instill eye drops in a 2 year olds eyes. Oh wait, it is called candy bribery.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Warding off colds

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I have been so frustrated with colds this year. Last year, we were hardly sick at all. This year we have been passing around colds continually. It seems like someone is always sick. My dear husband reminds me that the only thing that has changed is eating more organic ;) However, we have both noticed that it also coincided with Kai going to Mother’s Morning Out. Nonetheless, we have been sharing colds, pink eye, and sore throats for weeks now.

For the first time in weeks, I think we are all more or less “better.” Maybe a sniffle hear and there, but not the crud. Here is what we have been doing in the meantime:

Extra sleep

Gargling with salt water

Extra vitamin D (4000 units for Lee and me, 800 units for Kai)

Daily probiotics and multivitamins (whole food derived)

Strict hand washing and sanitizing

Frequent washing of sheets and pillows

Extra coffee water

No sharing of toys that get put in mouth, as much as possible

Limiting sugar

Monday, January 3, 2011

Grilled vegetables packets

I mentioned a long time ago that we had joined a local growers group. It is different from a CSA (community supported agriculture group). You select only the foods that you want vs. getting a basket of someone else’s choosing. It is amazing!! This is our first truly cold week but up until now we have had a large variety of produce. One of the items that has been on the list for weeks now is butternut squash. You really cannot go wrong with this recipe. Even though my kids are crazy about butternut squash I can almost always get them to eat at least a few bites!

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Cut butternut squash into pieces. I usually cut it into circles horizontally, slice off the skin in a hexagon shape and then dice into pieces. Divide in to two batches. Place each batch on a piece of aluminum foil. Drizzle organic maple syrup over the squash. Fold the tin foil in thirds lengthwise (center the squash, fold one side over, then the other). Then fold the edges horizontally until you have a packet. Bake at 375 degrees for 30 min.

Variation: this can be done with any vegetables. You can also substitute olive oil. My dad is famous for cutting up sweet potatoes, asparagus, squash, and peppers and then grilling the packet. Oh, mmmmm!