Seeds and berries have been eaten for many centuries and are often used to boost health and increase longevity. Some are also used as medicinal purposes and most are easy to add into our daily meals. I’ve been eating certain types of seeds and berries since I was a child and started giving my son the same type of seeds and berries when he was younger as well. Our favorite health-boosting berry is the Goji berry, which originated in China and have an awesome amount of health benefits. Goji berries were used in ancient times to increase one’s overall immunity as they contain high levels of antioxidants. They’re naturally sweet and versatile and make a great snack for adults and children. I often give my son a handful of organic dried Goji berries to munch on throughout the day and he likes them as is, without needing to add the berries into food or beverages. However, every so often I like to include them in my cooking just to liven up my dishes and to add some extra nutrition. Below is a recipe of adding Goji berries into my homemade granola. It adds a certain flavor and texture to the granola making people wonder what that unique taste might be.

Adding super seeds and berries into your daily meals is important in maintaining overall health and vitality. But so many people are unaccustomed to eating certain types of seeds and berries. While berries such as strawberries and blueberries have their own health benefits, it’s good to add in some uncommon ones simply because we should increase foods that are better for us. Berries such as Acai berry, Goji berry, and Sea berry are not as commonly known but they sure pack a hell of a punch when it comes to antioxidants and other healing factors such as anti-inflammatory, increasing blood circulation which is crucial for overall health, and preventing certain types of cancers and chronic illnesses. It’s easy to add these types of super berries into your food whether eating them raw, blended into smoothies, or added into soups and baked sweets. Because super berries are more nutritious than most common types of berries, increasing your intake of them can only be beneficial to your health.

Super seeds are seeds that include flax seeds, chia seeds, and sesame seeds. Super seeds contain high levels of nutrients that help your body fight off diseases and increase your mental sharpness. Plus they are easy to assimilate into what you already eat on a regular basis. Most of these types of super seeds can be used in oil form so you can replace traditional vegetable or corn oil with flax seed oil and sesame oil. Sprinkle chia seeds on top of your yogurt or cereal. Add flax seed oil to your hot dishes. And sesame oil is a great flavor enhancer for most Asian recipes. Just be sure not to overheat these oils as they do lose some of their health boosting qualities during high heat. I usually add sesame oil until the very end of cooking to draw out the natural elements of my dishes and to enhance the flavors. I use flax seed oil in place of fish oil for important Omega fatty acids and Chia seeds like to go into my yogurt and smoothies.

There are many beneficial factors to using super berries and seeds and when you find creative and delicious ways of adding them into your food, not only are you increasing your palate, but you’re helping your body become better than it already is. One of my favorite ways of using Goji berries – as mentioned above – is to add them into my homemade granola. As a long time user of Goji berries, I was challenged by the brand, Sunfood Superfoods (http://www.sunfood.com/) to find a creative way of using their organic Goji berries. Of course I love a good challenge whenever it comes to my favorite health food so I put the Goji berries into homemade granola. While I have already done this in the past, I usually make good old fashioned granola without any additional ingredients other than the core ingredients. But thinking about unique ways of eating Goji berries besides as they are, I recall the delightful and uniquely sweet taste of Goji berries in my traditional granola recipe. Below you will find the Granola with Goji berries recipe that I hope you will try for yourself and enjoy as much as I do.

With week 3 of our Healthy 2017 goals, let’s try and incorporate more super seeds and berries into our lives. I’ve listed some of the best super seeds and berries that can be added into foods or eaten as they are. If you can enjoy them in their raw form without cooking them, you’ll find that these super seeds and berries are delicious just the way they are.

SEEDS:

Chia Seeds – Chia seeds offer a mild nutty flavor and has a delicious crunch to them. For an ounce of raw Chia seeds you’ll get about 4 grams of protein in which you’ll typically use about 2-4 teaspoons in a recipe. Chia seeds also contain fiber, calcium, phosphorous, and manganese. Chia seeds are great sprinkled into cereal or yogurt but can also be cooked into almost any dish you’d like. Chia seeds are great as Chia seeds pudding where seeds are soaked overnight with almond milk to create a slightly gummy texture. Once Chia seeds have been soaked or cooked, the texture and flavor changes slightly so be creative in how you use these delightful seeds.

Flax Seeds – Flax seeds have a slightly crunchy texture to them and contain about 5 grams of protein to one ounce of seeds. Flax seeds are full of fiber, thiamin, and magnesium and are a great powerhouse in preventing heart disease and other ailments. Flaxseeds are great for vegetarians and vegans as they provide a high amount of non-animal Omega 3 fatty acid. Mix flaxseed into soups, cereal, granola, ice cream, and virtually anything you can eat. You can also use Flaxseed oil in your cooking or baking. Because Flaxseeds are small seeds, beware of choking hazards for children.

Sunflower Seeds – Sunflower seeds contain about 5 grams of protein to one ounce of seeds. These kid-friendly seeds contain fiber, Vitamin E,  Vitamin B6, niacin, zinc, and many other beneficial nutrients. Eat them straight out of the shell or you can toast them in the oven for a delicious extra crunch to add into cereal, baked goods, and even Asian food stir-fry!

Hemp Seeds – Hemp Seeds contain 9 grams of protein per one ounce of seeds. Not to be confused with marijuana, Hemp seeds are full of iron, magnesium, and zinc.  Hemp seeds are often found mixed into cereal, trail mixes, and smoothies.

Pomegranate Seeds – Pomegranate seeds contain about one gram of protein per one ounce of seeds. When it comes to antioxidants, Pomegranate seeds are up in the charts along with Vitamins A, B, and C, folic acid, and fiber. Pomegranate seeds are generally eaten raw as they offer a delicate crunch and a tangy-sweet bite. You can also find pomegranate juice either as a blend or 100%. For full health benefits, it’s best to eat Pomegranate seeds raw and in 100% juice form.

Sesame Seeds – Sesame seeds typically come in white, brown, or black versions with black sesame seeds containing the most flavor. Sesame seeds contain about 5 grams of protein per one ounce of seeds and are full of health benefits including fiber, thiamin, Vitamin B6, calcium, and iron. Sesame seeds are very versatile when it comes to cooking with them. Black sesame oil contain numerous health benefits as well as producing a rich and nutty flavor when cooked or drizzled over food. Use sesame seeds in cereal, soups, baked goods, and sesame oil in stir-frys and in salad dressings.

SUPER BERRIES:

Acai Berries – Acai berries hail from indigenous trees in South America and are packed with amino acids, healthy fatty acids, antioxidants, and protects against chronic diseases and illnesses. Acai berries are great eaten raw but are mostly enjoyed in smoothies or blended into yogurts. Acai berries yield a slightly tart taste and can be mixed into trail mixes.

Blueberries – Blueberries are full of delicious flavors and health benefits and children love to pop them into their mouths as a natural snack. Blueberries pack an impressive amount of antioxidants, manganese, fiber, and Vitamin K. Blueberries are known to help fight off diseases including certain types of cancer, heart  disease, and diabetes. Try blueberries in a delicious fruit salad, blended into smoothies, stirred into yogurt, and baked into scrumptious sweets.

Cranberries – Cranberries contain a group of flavonoids called proanthocyanidins, which help lower the risk of urinary tract infections. Cranberries help support the blood system and may prevent certain types of cancer as well as promote heart health. Cranberries are typically very tart if eaten raw so try mixing raw cranberries into smoothies or baked goods. The dried versions are great as a snack on its own or mixed into trail mixes and oatmeal. Get children to eat cranberries by baking them into muffins such as the Cranberry-Almond muffins.

Goji Berries – Goji berries are bright, orange and beautiful little berries that are a powerhouse in health benefits. Originally used in Traditional Chinese Medicine, Goji berries have become quite popular throughout the decades in the US mainly due to its immunity boosting and disease fighting abilities. Goji berries are full of Vitamins C and E, beta-carotene and lycopene. Goji berries are known to treat diabetes, high blood pressure, maintain eye health, and nourish the kidneys and liver. Goji berries also provide natural energy and vitality, increase metabolism, and helps support the blood system. Goji berries are usually sold in dried form but if you own a Goji berry plant, mix the berries into smoothies or baked into sweets. Dried goji berries are wonderful as they are – they’re incredibly sweet and has a slightly chewy texture. Mix Goji berries into yogurt, salad, and homemade trail mix.

Goldenberries – Goldenberries, or Incan berries are traditionally grown in South America and are rich in fiber, and Vitamins A , B, and C. Like Goji berries, Goldenberries provide natural energy and helps regulate the metabolism. Goldenberries also have strong anti-inflammatory and antioxidant compounds so they’re great to munch on throughout the day. Goldenberries are typically sold in dry form and are great mixed into trail mixes, yogurt, and cereal as they do have a slightly more tangy taste.

Mulberries – Mulberries look similar to blackberries or rasberries and contain high amounts of polyphenols which supports heart health. Mulberries are also rich in Vitamin C, calcium, potassium, magnesium, and iron. Naturally sweet with a tangy flavor, Mulberries can be eaten raw just like similar berries or mixed into yogurt and baked goods.

Sea Buckthorn Berries – Sea Buckthorn are small, yellowish-orange berries grown primarily in Asia. Considered to be most prominent in Omega 7’s, which can only be found in certain foods, Sea Buckthorn berries also contains Omegas 3,6,9 which are essential in the development and nourishment of skin, hair, and nails. Sea berries also help control cholesterol levels and boosts the immune system. Sea Buckthorn berries contain cancer-fighting flavonoids and cartenoids and contains a high level of Vitamin C. Sea berries are mostly used in natural beauty products  and as a natural juice. Two ounces of Sea Buckthorn berry juice contains about 40 milligrams of vitamin C, which is approximately 45 to 55 percent of your daily needs.

 

Super Goji Berries Granola Recipe:

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/4 cups regular rolled oats
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1/4 cup apple juice or water
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1/2 cup goji berries, chopped berries yield about 1/4 cup(http://www.sunfood.com/food/goji-berries.html)
  • 1/4 cup dried fruit of your choice ( best with dried papayas or pineapples)
  • 1/4 cup dried nuts, chopped if you prefer

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Lightly grease baking sheet with canola oil (or line baking sheet with nonstick foil). In a medium bowl, combine the oats,  cinnamon, salt, brown sugar, goji berries, (and other dried berries or nuts to your preference). Mix well. In a small bowl, combine the apple juice or water and mix into honey. Mix well.

  • Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients, stirring until the mixture is fully combined and moist. Spread the mixture on the greased baking sheet and bake for 15 minutes.
  • Remove from the oven and stir, breaking the large chunks into smaller pieces. Bake for an additional 8 minutes or until crisp. Remove from oven and allow to cool. While still warm, stir to break up any remaining chunks. When completely cool, store the granola in an airtight container.

 

So the next time you’re at the grocery store, look for these super berries and super seeds. You can find most of these seeds and berries at your natural grocery store or online through major e-commerce such as Amazon and Vitacost.com. Don’t be afraid to try any of  these super berries and seeds. They are super healthy and nutritious and tastes absolutely unique and delicious.

 

Disclaimer: The product(s)were sent to the author for review by the manufacturer/PR. All reviews on “Happymomblogger” remain unbiased and unpaid and are the sole decision of the author. The opinions of these product(s) were not influenced in any way, shape, or form. As always, please read the ingredients carefully when trying new products.

Please read the labels and ingredients carefully and follow all manufacturer’s instructions (if any). The products selected for the giveaway were generously donated by the companies/PR to help readers learn more about their products. The winner’s choice in using/consuming these products are entirely up to the winner and will not hold the author and her family liable nor the companies/PR liable. These products are made with non-toxic ingredients but always be safe with what you use and consume.

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Posted by: suzan | March 21, 2017

The Last Chance Matinee – A Book Review

BOOKREVIEW

I always find that reading a good book, a really good book, is like finding a friend who understands you and takes you on a mental journey of discoveries and wonder. My love for reading began at such a young age that my parents at that time would practically have to force me to go outside to play. I would rather sit on the floor with fluffy pillows around me and immerse myself completely in the book I was reading than run around with other kids playing games. And while I tend to read certain genres I will from time to time pick up a book from a genre I don’t necessarily read from. I think it’s important to expand one’s horizon when it comes to learning and reading books and when you find a new author to add to your favorites list, books make life even more enjoyable.

As a Net Galley blogger, I was given the opportunity to review and help promote Mariah Stewart’s newest book, The Last Chance Matinee. Award-winning and bestseller author Mariah Stewart’s newest series begins with The Last Chance Matinee and the Hudson Sisters series and chronicles the delicate lives of three sisters – two by pure blood relation, the other a half sister through an unknown and hidden relationship by their father. And that’s the only thing the three sisters have in common with each other – the bond through their father. Cara, Allie, and Des couldn’t be more different if they tried and that’s what the reader is led to believe from the beginning. But as I read through the chapters and slowly became immersed into the worlds of the Hudson sisters, it became apparent that the three siblings are actually more similar than they themselves believe. And as any siblings who rarely got along while growing up let alone finding out a total stranger is related to you, there are challenges and hurdles and lots and lots of hurt feelings. But as the author takes us through each of the sister’s lives, we find that they are discovering each other as each layer of their private lives get peeled away slowly and delicately. Through an unexpected and sad knowledge the sisters learn about the secrets of their father and the intricate lives of the Hudson empire. And the aftermath of the secret leads the sisters on a journey of self discovery, friendship, and loyalty.

Here’s my personal take on the book:

This is my first time reading a book by Mariah Stewart as contemporary women’s fiction is not usually a genre I will read, but will from time to time pick up a good book if it captures my interest. Well, I can honestly say I understand why Ms. Stewart was a NY Times and USA Today bestselling author. Her book, The Last Chance Matinee draws you in immediately from the first paragraph as you’re thrust into the diverse lives of Cara, Allie, and Des. Cara seems to be the major component in this first series as the writer tends to put her foremost throughout the story. I’d like to think it is because Cara is the child from a “secret” marriage or not-quite-marriage since their father was still married to Des and Allie’s mom at that time.

To me, Cara seemed to be more of the forgiving one out of all the three sisters. Although she went through a painful divorce with a cheating ex-husband, she was brought up with unconditional love and nonconformity as the daughter of a free-spirited “hippie” mom. Des is Allie’s younger sister and was a child actor who made fame and fortune at a very young age. Allie though, was my favorite sister out of all the three because she was misunderstood and outcasted in a way by her rich friends from her previous marriage. She had a teenage daughter who adored her but was growing apart as I suppose many teenage girls would eventually. And it’s because the three sisters were quite different in personality and values was what made the book interesting from the start. It was a joy to discover the ticks of  the sisters, what they went through individually and what they’ll go through together towards the end of the book.

The synopsis of the story is that Cara, Allie, and Des are bound together for some time until their father’s will is fulfilled to the letter. Sent to the quaint town of Pocono Mountains, Pennsylvania, the sisters must unify to restore a decades old movie theater that had been quite the hot trend at that time. In order for the sisters to receive the generous estates left by their father, Fritz Hudson – who was a famous and wealthy talent agent – the siblings have to finish remodeling the old movie theater and bring it back to life before the reserved deposit for the remodel runs out. Having no experience in renovations or running a movie theater, the Hudson sisters must rely on each other as well as the kindness of the sleepy town of Pocono Mountains.

There is a bit of light romance and comedy throughout the book as each sister’s personality shines through – different in every way possible and yet very much alike in others. It’s through their mutual confusion and disbelief over the deception of their father’s secret marriage and secret child that at first separates them, but also inevitably bonds them in a way that siblings should do. The mystery of what their father did leads them to discover other mysteries of the Hudson empire as well. The Hudson’s was a founding family of the small town and had brought in much needed revenue and business for the growing yet tucked away suburb in the mountains. While I do love a good mystery, I did feel as though the author was dragging out the parts a bit but that’s just me, for if you’re going to involve mysteries into a story that’s not quite a mystery, it needs to have a big and shocking revelation that I never expected. Ofcourse that little drawback didn’t deter from reading the book. No, the entire book was engaging, intriguing, and the words flowed smoothly. The pacing was about right and one could tell that this book was written by an experienced writer.

The Last Chance Matinee is the first book in the series and I hope Ms. Stewart will write about Allie next. Something about her just drew me to her. Allie was deeply hurt and mistrusting but you did see her shine and soften when her daughter Nikki came to visit her and her sisters.  Nikki, her teenage daughter was one of the bright spots in the story as was the sweet moment when Des rescued some stray dogs. While the sisters worked alongside each other to restore the old theater, it was Cara who discovered a deeper secret that connected her father to the town and certain residents at that time. What that secret was I’m assuming we’ll find out in the next installments.

The Last Chance Matinee is definitely one of those “feel good” kind of books. Although it’s listed as women’s fiction, I think it would be fine for anyone over age 16 to read. There aren’t any explicit contents in there and the pacing is engaging enough for young readers who want something that is light-hearted, has a bit of mystery, and some interesting sibling rivalry.

*You can order The Last Chance Matinee on Barnes and Noble’s website and Amazon. For direct links to purchase the book, click here for B&N. And click here for Amazon. And of course wherever books are sold. The book is released as of today so please go to either websites to read an excerpt of The Last Chance Matinee and pick up a copy for yourself. You will not be disappointed!

About The Last Chance Matinee:

When celebrated and respected agent Fritz Hudson passes away, he leaves a trail of Hollywood glory in his wake—and two separate families who never knew the other existed. Allie and Des Hudson are products of Fritz’s first marriage to Honora, a beautiful but troubled starlet whose life ended tragically. As his relationship with Honora unraveled, Fritz was falling in love on the Delaware Bay with New Age hippie Susa Pratt—but, while Fritz loved Susa with everything he had and fathered daughter Cara with her, he never quite managed to come clean about his West Coast family.

Now Fritz is gone, and the three sisters are brought together under strange circumstances: there’s a large inheritance to be had, one that could save Allie from her ever-deepening debt following a disastrous divorce; allow Des to open a rescue shelter for abused and wounded animals; and give Cara a fresh start after her husband left her for her best friend—but only if the sisters upend their lives and work together to restore an old theater that was Fritz’s obsession growing up in his small hometown in Pennsylvania’s Pocono Mountains. Will the sisters come together to turn their father’s dream into a reality—and will they come away with far more than they bargained for?

The Last Chance Matinee is published by Gallery Books an imprint of Simon & Schuster and is categorized under Contemporary Women’s Fiction.

Thank you to Net Galley and Gallery Books for the ARC of The Last Chance Matinee.

 

Disclaimer: The product(s)were sent to the author for review by the manufacturer/PR. All reviews on “Happymomblogger” remain unbiased and unpaid and are the sole decision of the author. The opinions of these product(s) were not influenced in any way, shape, or form. As always, please read the ingredients carefully when trying new products.

Please read the labels and ingredients carefully and follow all manufacturer’s instructions (if any). The products selected for the giveaway were generously donated by the companies/PR to help readers learn more about their products. The winner’s choice in using/consuming these products are entirely up to the winner and will not hold the author and her family liable nor the companies/PR liable. These products are made with non-toxic ingredients but always be safe with what you use and consume.

http://www.topmommyblogs.com/blogs/in.php?id=storm

NUTRITION

It was a bit crazy last week getting ready for the Natural Products Expo but I learned so much and will be bringing you some exciting new products to talk about. I needed a bit of recuperation after all the walking and talking but I’m back on track now and what’s the best way to get back into the game than to talk about this week’s Healthy Start journal. Or rather, this month in March which has been designated around the country as National Nutritional Month.

Now you might wonder why we dedicate only a month to highlight good nutrition. Proper nutrition should be on the forefront of our daily goals but with so many people in the world still inexperienced or inaccessible to clean and healthy foods, dedicating an entire month to this crucial topic is one of the best ways in educating everyone.Eating nutritional foods and making healthy food choices is important for everyone regardless of age, gender, or physical need. Without proper nutrition our health depletes and we end up relying on medicine to heal us rather than preventing our bodies from needing medicine in the first place.

So what’s the best way in ensuring we eat properly on a regular basis? It’s not all about counting calories or taking in the correct amount of vitamins and supplements. There are quite a few factors to consider before we can truly change our mindset into eating healthier and better. Below, I’ve listed 10 ways we can make the change to eat better and eat cleaner. It’s not hard to do and it doesn’t have to take an insurmountable time to prepare. All you have to do is start – and as the famous Greek philosopher Plato once stated, “The beginning is the most important part of the work.” – let’s begin at the beginning if we must.

10 Commandments for National Nutrition Month:

1- Evaluate your current health. Is junk food practically your best friend? Or do you walk down the produce aisle with love-filled eyes? If you answered yes to the first question then it’s time to seriously evaluate what’s in your fridge and pantry. And if your refrigerator is basically an empty land of bright lights and storage space, then it’s time to head on over to your friendly natural grocery store and load up on some fresh fruits and vegetables. “Junk” food was named as just that – junk that has no beneficial properties. Therefore eating too much junk food only destroys your precious health rather than enhance it. Think about how you feel now. Are you  tired, ragged, angry, stressed, or don’t have enough energy throughout the day? Those symptoms are mostly connected to what you’re already eating. Factor in no exercise with poor diet and your health will be greatly affected.

2- Determine the type of nutrients your body is lacking. We all fall short to eating unhealthy now and then but we don’t have to let our bad food choices define who we are and what we want to achieve. If your body is lacking in certain types of nutrients, be it Vitamin D or Magnesium, determine what causes you certain illnesses or imbalance in your life. Do you feel fatigued all of the time? Perhaps your body lacks enough B complex vitamins which includes B1, B2, B6, and B12. B vitamins are known for a multitude of benefits for the body and B5 and B12 helps convert carbohydrates into glucose which gives your body the “fuel” it needs to thrive. The best ways in getting more proper nutrients into your body is of course through natural foods such as fresh fruits, vegetables, legumes, lean protein, and healthy fats. But if you don’t have enough time to consume all the necessary nutrients your body needs on a daily basis, then adding in supplements is important. Take vitamins and supplements from reputable brands that can trace their source materials and offer you a complete spectrum of supplements to choose from.

3- Take stock of your fridge and pantry. This goes without saying that what you have in your fridge and pantry/cupboards are basically what you’re going to eat.So clear out all the food that contains anything artificial, too much sodium and sugar, and unhealthy, saturated fat. While there are more factors to consider, start with these basic steps towards the journey to a healthier body and mind.

4- Write down healthy food choices on your grocery list. While #3 suggests eliminating poor choices in food, let’s take notice of food that are better for us. Replacing bad food choices with healthier ones is super easy to do. And creating a shopping list helps to curb those urges in picking up unwholesome food that will only damage your health in the long run. While completely eliminating sugar, salt, and fat isn’t ideal for a healthy mind and body, it is possible to eliminate the unhealthier versions or reduce your intake of them. Switch to raw sugar, honey, and agave. Use sea salt or season with the natural juices of vegetables. And use healthy fats such as Omega fatty acids found in certain fish, seeds, and pressed oils.

5- Find balance in what you eat. Nowadays with so many things going on in the world, stress and poor food choices seems to be major causes of illnesses and other health issues.  Try to limit intake of “junk” food that you find in grocery stores, resist eating out unnecessarily, and get a proper balance of fruits, vegetables, and whole supplements which comes from unprocessed, raw foods. Whenever possible, limit your intake of animal fat as studies show that animal fat can increase chances of certain illnesses and diseases in the body.

6- Learn about healthier food alternatives. I’ve been a vegetarian for many years and limit my intake of animal dairy and eggs as well. There are many reasons why one choose to eat healthier while others do not. Sometimes it’s out of convenience or a lack of knowledge. Educate yourself in replacing your less than healthy food choices with healthier versions. Try to resist buying foods out of convenience when there are simple ways of making food from scratch. Subscribe to a health or food newsletter where you get recipes emailed to you on a weekly basis. Try websites such as www.deliciousliving.com and http://www.tasteforlife.com/ for healthy and delicious recipes that are created and vetted  by professional chefs and health experts. And when you’re at the grocery store, a good general rule of thumb is to shop for products on the outer rims of the grocery store. When you’re finished with buying all the fresh produce, then browse the aisles in between the store.

7- Eat from an assortment of colors. Well, eat foods with natural colors of course. Resist buying food that contain artificial colors as most of these artificially created colors have been known to contribute to certain illnesses and health problems. Think of it this way – your body was created naturally so it’s only right that you give your body natural foods. A good guideline would be to eat foods that are red, orange, green, and yellow and try to stay away from foods that are mostly white. Foods rich in color often correlates with the organs in your body. Red is great for your blood, green is great for detoxifying the liver, and orange is good for your muscles.

8- Add more nutrient boosting foods into your meals. If completely changing your eating habits sounds frightening, take it one step at a time, or rather one meal at a time. Eating healthy isn’t an overnight ordeal or a one time commitment. But starting with just one meal a day or even 3 meals a week can get you on the right path to a more healthy and nutritious lifestyle. Start off with one cup of fruits or vegetables, preferably raw, then work your way up to adding legumes and seeds and whole grains. Legumes can include anything in the pea, nuts, and bean family but be sure to get legumes that are more nutritious such as garbanzo beans (chickpeas), lentils, and black beans. Seeds should include flax seeds and chia seeds which provide some of the highest amounts of health boosting qualities and can prevent many illnesses and diseases. Just be sure to get them organic or grown without genetic engineering or manipulation. Whole grains should include brown rice, quinoa, and oats just to name a few as whole grains contain a great amount of fiber for proper digestive health; they help maintain blood sugar levels; they contain essential minerals and vitamins such as calcium and vitamin B; they help you stay full longer; they reduce inflammation; they lower blood pressure, and many other health benefits.

9- Eat foods that reduce inflammation. Research has shown that chronic inflammation is the precursor to certain illnesses and diseases in our bodies. While some inflammation is necessary as it’s the body’s natural defense system, but when inflammation flares up more than needed, it attacks the body and results in health problems that we all don’t need. While some people might fight inflammation with pills, doctors and scientists recommend eliminating chronic inflammation or – even mild inflammation that won’t go away – with healthier food choices. And while certain foods trigger inflammation such as excess of refined sugar, red meat, and trans fat, there are foods that can combat inflammation. Foods that fight inflammation due to many factors include tomatoes, nuts, certain types of berries, leafy greens, Omega 3 rich fish, and olive oil.

10- Eat more “superfoods”. The term superfoods has been used for quite some time now and while it can be confusing to many, superfoods simply means certain types of foods that are categorized to bring you targeted health benefits. For instance, a superfood such as Goji berries can help increase circulation and provide overall immunity. Another superfood such as Kefir contains high levels of probiotics and supports good digestive health. The superfood Chia Seeds contain great amounts of plant-based Omega 3s, fiber, and calcium. Other superfoods that are on the rise (but not necessarily new to other countries) include Acai, Cacao (or cocoa powder), Seaweed, Mangosteens, Maca Powder, Hemp Seeds, Nutritional Yeast, and Black Garlic. Add more of these superfoods into your daily meals to get additional health benefits and to prevent many illnesses and diseases.

Remember that eating healthier isn’t scary or unachievable. Start by recognizing why you are always tired, ill, or gaining too much weight. Most likely it’s your eating habits and how you view food. Do you look at food as a means of getting full? Or is food crucial in maintaining your health and prolonging your life? Eating healthier doesn’t mean eating food that is bland or tasteless. Healthy and nutritious foods are balanced with proper minerals and vitamins along with adding in the right flavor to make them enjoyable. Research into recipes that include nutrient rich foods and superfoods. Look what’s inside your fridge and pantries right now. If you see mostly junk food laden with fat and artificial ingredients then throw them out or just don’t buy them. We know it’s impossible to resist a sweet treat now and then, but we don’t have to let unhealthy foods take over our lives. We are in control of our health. And when you break it down – without good health, life can be burdensome to most people.

Happy National Nutrition Month and start eating healthier!

 

Disclaimer: The product(s)were sent to the author for review by the manufacturer/PR. All reviews on “Happymomblogger” remain unbiased and unpaid and are the sole decision of the author. The opinions of these product(s) were not influenced in any way, shape, or form. As always, please read the ingredients carefully when trying new products.

Please read the labels and ingredients carefully and follow all manufacturer’s instructions (if any). The products selected for the giveaway were generously donated by the companies/PR to help readers learn more about their products. The winner’s choice in using/consuming these products are entirely up to the winner and will not hold the author and her family liable nor the companies/PR liable. These products are made with non-toxic ingredients but always be safe with what you use and consume.

http://www.topmommyblogs.com/blogs/in.php?id=storm

 

Posted by: suzan | March 2, 2017

2017 Healthy Start – 10 Week Strategy

newyear

It’s hard to believe that we’re in the third month of 2017 already! Now is the right time to start evaluating all the New Year resolutions you promised yourself at the strike of midnight last year. Although I’m not really one to make new year resolutions because well, I tried that in the past and the pressure to fulfill them was just too unreasonable. So, for the past few years I realized that making easy to reach goals  throughout the year was much more realistic and attainable. It has worked for the most part and I don’t feel as pressured or disappointed if I’m unable to fulfill the bigger goals and aspirations.

This year let’s start off with some easier goals to make and achieve. I’m going to start the first week with a healthy topic that is suitable for both kids and adults. With each new year the desire to start fresh or new is just waiting to jump out of my body. While children may not truly understand this concept or desire since everything is practically fresh and new to them, for grown ups however having a fresh start is invigorating and exhilarating. I’m not referring to anything big or major, but just the thought that I can do something to make my life better is always a nice thought.

The new year is a great time to start getting rid of things. Things that may tie us down or hinder us from moving forward in our lives. It could be eating cleaner and healthier, or clearing out unnecessary items in our home, or negative thoughts that cloud our minds day in and day out. To do these cleansing rituals, let’s start off with a list and then deciding if they are attainable. Each person can have a different goal set but keep in mind that the new year brings in a healthier and happier outlook in life.

Commandments of a clean mind and body:

1 – Toss out any leftover Christmas/holiday items from last year: scraps of wrapping paper, Christmas lights that don’t work, holiday decorations that are old or torn, ribbon scraps, and bows that are misshaped or damaged. Toss out gift boxes or re-purpose them into something else. Gift boxes tend to clutter up the home if you have too many. If you’re particularly attached to any of them, keep the fancy ones and reuse them as container boxes. To further help the environment, find recycling centers in your area that can recycle these items. If not, ask your local elementary schools if they would like wrapping paper, bows, and ribbon for classroom projects. Or, have your kids make some fun projects that can be placed in picture frames or re-purposed into their growing home projects.

* Tip for tossing these items out: Seeing extra scraps of paper, torn ribbons, bows, and anything broken just leads to frustration of the mind and eyes. Sometimes we tend to hold onto objects that we think we might use again. Seriously consider what you would reuse them for and if you don’t plan on reusing them within the next three months, then toss them out.

2 – Toss out “junk food” in your fridge and pantry and replace them with healthier versions. Yes, there are healthier versions to the conventional types of junk food out there. While once in awhile we may indulge on the occasional junk food snack, keep in mind that if you don’t keep them in the house, you won’t feel the need to eat them.

* Tip for tossing these items out: Go to the natural grocery store and head straight to the natural and organic food aisle. There you will find many alternatives to the conventional unhealthy versions. Food products can be organic and made without any artificial ingredients. Trade unhealthy versions of yogurt with healthier organic versions. Trade greasy GMO chips with non-GMO, baked, or kettle style chips. Trade ice cream for gelato and dairy-free ice cream. Most importantly read labels and ingredients to get a better understanding of what you’re buying.

3- Toss out old, unworn, and damaged clothing. Sometimes we tend to buy clothes when they’re on sale or if we need them for an emergency occasion or function. But if you haven’t worn the articles of clothing for over six months and it’s already a new season, donate them or give them to someone you know. For damaged clothing, see if they can be fixed or re-purposed into rags or other types of clothing (jeans into shorts; long sleeves into short sleeves; long skirts into shorter skirts, etc.)

* Tip for tossing these items out: The general rule for keeping clothes is if you haven’t worn them in over a year, then toss them out. For clothes to have some value they would need to have been worn at least three times. Great places to donate are donation centers and consignment shops where you get a percentage back from the value of the sale.

4 – Yard cleanup is probably one of the most satisfying endeavors for a healthy home. Start by clearing out all the debris that’s in your yard such as fallen leaves, trees that need to be pruned or trimmed, dirt and soil from all the rain, and any broken flower pots and furniture. This will clear up space in your yard and help create a calmer and more serene scenery.

*Tip for cleaning up the yard: old debris in the yard left untouched can create germs, bugs, and even rodents! These are dangerous to have around the yard if your kids like playing in them and might accidentally touch or pick some up.

5 – “De-junk” your snacks. Yes, there is a way to “de-junk” all of the snacks that we see in grocery stores. While our brains may have been trained at a young age to buy the big name brands, we are also getting smarter and more adept at discerning between what is healthier for us and how certain ingredients trigger the “addiction” to unhealthy food. Unhealthy snacks are snacks that contain artificial ingredients, high fructose corn syrup, chemical preservatives, and many others. For a list of the top 7 scariest ingredients found in food, visit: http://digest.naturallysavvy.com/scary-seven/ for a complete list.

*Tip for cleaning up your snacks: Most children love to snack, whether it’s sweet grapes or greasy potato chips. But as parents we need to be extra diligent in the kind of snacks we buy and give to our children. Children’s bodies are best nourished with foods full of vitamins and minerals and not the sugary, artificially colored and flavored treats you find lurking in the grocery aisles. While some conventional snacks are unavoidable, it’s best to remember that children’s bodies absorb more of these harmful ingredients so try to keep it at a minimum.

6 – Toss out plastic containers. Those plastic containers that are either from restaurant leftovers or purchased from the store create more landfill than necessary. Most restaurants use plastic containers that can’t go into the recycle stream thereby ending up filling the landfills which takes thousands of years to fully decompose if at all. If you do end up with lots of plastic to-go containers, consider upcycling them into something you can use around the house or give away. And instead of buying more plastic containers from the store, consider reusing the restaurant containers a few times to really get some good uses out of them. Most store-bought containers are made from materials that can’t be recycled although more and more companies are changing to containers made from recycled materials. Also consider purchasing and supporting environmentally conscious companies that use recyclable materials in all of their products.

*Tip for tossing out plastic containers: Many plastic containers are made from materials that can’t be reheated in the microwave or can break or crack if used too often. If you do find plastic containers (from restaurants or store-bought) that are made from recycled materials, consider reusing them or upcycling them to give them a longer life. Certain chemicals in plastic have been known to cause certain illnesses so avoid them when possible.

7 – Toss out chemical cleaning products. Cleaning is important in our lives in order to maintain a healthy body and environment. But cleaning with toxic chemically-made products actually does more harm in the long run. Non-natural cleaning products  can leave behind toxins that we wouldn’t want to inhale, touch, or eat off of. Chemical cleaning products may seem like  they’re actually disinfecting and cleaning, but they leave behind more harmful residue than actually cleaning anything. Naturally made cleaning products, whether store bought or homemade can clean just as well as conventional cleaners if not even better. Certain ingredients such as vinegar, baking soda, and essential oils are naturally designed by nature to clean, disinfect, and get rid of germs. Using naturally derived ingredients to clean your house will prevent toxic residues and end up on surfaces and inhaled by your young ones.

*Tip for tossing out chemical cleaning products and using naturally derived cleaning products: consider that conventional cleaners were manufactured in a lab with unpronounceable ingredients and can actually cost more to purchase. DIY cleaning products using ingredients found in nature and probably in your house saves you money, time, and your health. For recipes on how to make your own natural cleaning products, check out my previous post here.

8 – Clean up your computer. At one of my old jobs I had to keep all the emails that I received for documentation and resourcing. But in order not to get inundated with insignificant emails I had to sort and categorize almost every type of email. Well, the same should be applied to your home computers. Whether you use your desktop/laptop for personal use, business, or both, keeping it clean and free of junk helps streamline your work and optimize your computer to work at its best. Make folders of certain categories so that when you get emails that are important or you need to go back to later, you can easily find them in their designated folders. And deleting junk emails is just like throwing away your junk snail mail. Read them quickly and get rid of them. And then don’t forget to delete all of the emails and documents in your trash folder too.

*Tip for cleaning up your computer: Consider how easy it would be in the future when you have to find something quick. Instead of searching through your thousands of emails, you can simply look through the designated folders and find what you need there. It will save you time and insanity and free up your computer’s memory.

9 – Toss out old periodicals, donate books, and revisit your craft supplies. A new year is the perfect time to decide if you should renew your magazine subscriptions or renew them as digital copies only. Digital magazines and books are easier to reuse and saves tons of paper and ink that end up in our landfills. Books that you no longer read or care about, such as outgrown children’s books can be donated to schools and libraries or start a book swap with your friends. Perhaps there are books that your children would love to swap with their friends and vice versa. It’s okay to keep favorite books or books that are autographed or rare, but when in doubt donate them or give them to friends and family.

*Tip for clearing out unwanted paper goods and craft supplies: Books are never ending journeys that can be revisited without costing any extra money. But when books are completely worn out, outdated, or outgrown, they inevitably clutter our home and take up space. Same goes to the craft supplies that we think to ourselves, “we might just need that extra scrap of ribbon for another project”. Unless you’re a professional crafter or you craft regularly, there’s really no need to hold onto that 1/4″ scrap of ribbon or construction paper. And instead of throwing them in the trash, see if your kids can make creative projects out of those scraps for you to frame or them to give away as gifts.

10 – Clear out the clutter in your mind and life. Most of us nowadays have either more than one job or are working parents or stay at home parents with several kids. No matter what, we all have some kind of clutter lingering in our minds and lives. Ask yourself is it necessary to hold on to damaging thoughts and feelings. Think about what those detrimental thoughts are doing to your health and to your life. Are they affecting your way of living or your loved ones? Do they cause you so much stress that you barely have time for doing anything relaxing? Find healthier solutions to resolving these harmful lingering thoughts in your head and move on. Even a little bit of stress can cause health problems later on in life.

*Tip for a peaceful mind: Meditation and being aware of what bothers you can help you find better solutions to live a healthier life. A healthy life equals healthy eating and healthy mindset. Determine what is holding you back and what is triggering you from making harmful choices and decisions. When you can let go of things that are preventing you from living your life to its fullest potential, you’ll be happier and possibly live longer.

So this year try something different that will make your life better. If you have children, teach them and lead them to make healthier choices in life so that they can grow up into happier and better individuals.

 

Disclaimer: The product(s)were sent to the author for review by the manufacturer/PR. All reviews on “Happymomblogger” remain unbiased and unpaid and are the sole decision of the author. The opinions of these product(s) were not influenced in any way, shape, or form. As always, please read the ingredients carefully when trying new products.

Please read the labels and ingredients carefully and follow all manufacturer’s instructions (if any). The products selected for the giveaway were generously donated by the companies/PR to help readers learn more about their products. The winner’s choice in using/consuming these products are entirely up to the winner and will not hold the author and her family liable nor the companies/PR liable. These products are made with non-toxic ingredients but always be safe with what you use and consume.

http://www.topmommyblogs.com/blogs/in.php?id=storm

Posted by: suzan | March 2, 2017

Chick-fil-A Upcycling Project

chickfila

As a Chick-fil-A mom panelist I was given the opportunity to try their Chicken Tortilla Soup for a fun upcycling project #chickfilamomsDIY. While my husband had tried the soup and thought it was spicy and filling, I took the container and turned it into something that I already normally do – upcycling cartons for the garden. The challenge was to turn the Chick-fil-A soup bowls into something that is usable and in turn, helping to reduce waste for our planet. I thought up and down, left and right, turned around in circles and finally decided to reuse it as a seed planter. It was hard to think of something different having seen my fellow Chick-fil-A moms create some truly wonderful projects, but gardening is a great love and enjoyment of mine so why not turn the soup bowls into something I can use in my garden?

Whenever I do end up with plastic containers, I always use them for seed starting for plants that I can transplant into my garden or for the garden club students at my son’s school. A plastic tray can be easily carried and sturdy enough so that the seeds can grow on their own and at a much faster pace than if they were in the ground. I can move the tray in various spots around the house to absorb some sunlight or underneath a lamp during the days when the sun is hiding.

My upcycling project this year for the Chick-fil-A moms panel was easy but serves so well in what I need it for. I always tell myself that if something can be upcycled and given a new  chance at life, then reuse them whenever possible.

If you’re interested in learning how to upcycle your plastic containers, think about what you can use them for that gives them a longer purpose. Planting seeds and starting seedlings is a great and healthy way to grow your own vegetables, herbs, and even certain fruits. Below is a photo of Arugula seeds that I planted a few days ago with my garden club students. It’s super easy to achieve – all you need are some organic seeds of plants or flowers you wish to grow, organic soil, water, sun, and a safe place to grow them. Plant the seedlings outside according to their instructions or growth limit so that they can grow to their full potential.

cfa-dyi

If you’re interested in learning more about Chick-fil-A and their endeavor to help protect the earth, visit their website: www.chick-fil-a.com for more info.

Disclaimer: The product(s)were sent to the author for review by the manufacturer/PR. All reviews on “Happymomblogger” remain unbiased and unpaid and are the sole decision of the author. The opinions of these product(s) were not influenced in any way, shape, or form. As always, please read the ingredients carefully when trying new products.

Please read the labels and ingredients carefully and follow all manufacturer’s instructions (if any). The products selected for the giveaway were generously donated by the companies/PR to help readers learn more about their products. The winner’s choice in using/consuming these products are entirely up to the winner and will not hold the author and her family liable nor the companies/PR liable. These products are made with non-toxic ingredients but always be safe with what you use and consume.

http://www.topmommyblogs.com/blogs/in.php?id=storm

 

Posted by: suzan | March 2, 2017

Chick-fil-A Upcycling Project

Posted by: suzan | January 16, 2017

Thayers Natural Products

 

 

thayers

With the rise of environmental and health awareness around the world, it’s no wonder we are getting smarter and more conscientious of the products we buy and companies we support. I came across Thayers (https://www.thayers.com/) while at the Natural Products Expo and was happy to learn that Thayers has been around for over 100 years in the natural health industry. With a generous variety of personal care and health remedies, Thayers has steadily grown to be well-known throughout the country. Family-owned and operated, Thayers originally began with a family of doctors and grew their products using ingredients found in nature to help relieve certain ailments and illnesses. Their witch hazel formula can be found in many of their products and is a major component in personal health remedies.

thayers

Currently, Thayers products include Witch Hazel (made with organic ingredients), Witch Hazel Body Bars, Dry Mouth Sprays, Lozenges, Lip Balms, and their newest editions of Healthcare Remedies. The Healthcare Remedies include Allergy & Sinus Relief, Dry & Itchy Skin Relief, and Arthritis & Joint Relief. I was given samples of their Witch Hazel astringent and toners, body bars, lip balms, and healthcare remedy collection. I have to say that the Lavender Mint Witch Hazel smelled wonderfully and cleansed my face really well after each wash. Witch Hazel has been used therapeutically for many centuries and are used mainly for beauty treatments nowadays.

witch-hazel

There are many health benefits to Witch Hazel but it is mostly known for its astringent and antiseptic properties, which are useful for treating inflamed or irritated skin. The tannins found in the Witch Hazel plant have potent antioxidant properties and can be used to treat many types of skin conditions including minor cuts and abrasions, skin inflammation, and eczema. Witch Hazel is best used as a topical treatment and should not be ingested.

Besides the Witch Hazel astringent, my other two favorites are the lip balms and the soap. The lip balms gave me a nice minty feeling and kept my lips moisturized for awhile. But since I tend to bite my lips more often than I should, I did have to reapply the lip balm several times a day. The Witch Hazel soaps stayed in its shape quite well and that’s one thing I’m always concerned about. My husband uses soap and it makes me sad when I see soap being wasted in the shower because of the running water. The Thayers soap kept its shape well enough that the soap lasted a long time and lathered up pretty well.

You can find Thayers at most natural grocery stores or at online retailers including Thayers own website: https://www.thayers.com/.

 

Disclaimer: The product(s)were sent to the author for review by the manufacturer/PR. All reviews on “Happymomblogger” remain unbiased and unpaid and are the sole decision of the author. The opinions of these product(s) were not influenced in any way, shape, or form. As always, please read the ingredients carefully when trying new products.

Please read the labels and ingredients carefully and follow all manufacturer’s instructions (if any). The products selected for the giveaway were generously donated by the companies/PR to help readers learn more about their products. The winner’s choice in using/consuming these products are entirely up to the winner and will not hold the author and her family liable nor the companies/PR liable. These products are made with non-toxic ingredients but always be safe with what you use and consume.

http://www.topmommyblogs.com/blogs/in.php?id=storm

Posted by: suzan | January 6, 2017

Review of The Dirty Dozen/Clean Fifteen

ewg

Ever wonder why certain foods must be purchased organically grown and others are not as strictly enforced? Well, that’s because organically grown food are not sprayed or treated with toxic pesticides and herbicides. The soil and irrigation do not contain pesticides or toxic chemicals thereby ensuring a much cleaner crop down the line. Non-organic food however, are grown with heavily used pesticides and herbicides to maintain their growth along with being genetically modified for a bigger crop.

Each year or so, The Environmental Working Group (EWG) publishes their “Dirty Dozen Clean Fifteen” Shopper Guide listing twelve of the most heavily contaminated fruits and vegetables versus the “cleaner” fifteen most popular fruits and vegetables that are not heavily sprayed with chemicals. I’ve attached the graphic for you to see, but you can also go online to their website to download a copy to print out and keep (https://www.ewg.org/foodnews/dirty_dozen_list.php)

VEGGIE GARDEN - NEW

Here is the infographic for 2016 which I’m sure in 2017 one or a few of these will change. These types of food are tested and measured for the residual amount of toxic pesticides so the most heavily treated ones are on the top.

The Dirty Dozen are ones you should always buy organic while the Clean Fifteen are ones that, while may not always be organic, the residual toxic chemicals are at lower risk.

 

ewg

We might not always have the luxury of buying organic food all of the time. But there are certain foods we should really pay attention to how they’re grown. Now more than ever, we need to be diligent about what we buy, who we support, and how to keep our bodies and mind clean. Organically grown food are easier to find now and prices are more reasonable than years ago. When you plan your shopping and know what you’re buying then organic food will naturally become the first choice when you shop.

 

Disclaimer: The product(s)were sent to the author for review by the manufacturer/PR. All reviews on “Happymomblogger” remain unbiased and unpaid and are the sole decision of the author. The opinions of these product(s) were not influenced in any way, shape, or form. As always, please read the ingredients carefully when trying new products.

Please read the labels and ingredients carefully and follow all manufacturer’s instructions (if any). The products selected for the giveaway were generously donated by the companies/PR to help readers learn more about their products. The winner’s choice in using/consuming these products are entirely up to the winner and will not hold the author and her family liable nor the companies/PR liable. These products are made with non-toxic ingredients but always be safe with what you use and consume.

http://www.topmommyblogs.com/blogs/in.php?id=storm

 

 

 

Posted by: suzan | January 3, 2017

California Water H2O Challenge

 

Cal Water H2O Challenge

Living in California definitely has it’s advantages – fresh air, sunshine, and beautiful coastal scenery. But like any other state, there are also drawbacks in the rewards. Take for instance the water drought California has been dealing with for the past few years. One would think we would get an abundance of rain with the sunshine, but rain just hasn’t been a friend during the last couple of years. That’s why conserving water is so important for the state of California. Without water and clean water that is, our health would be greatly affected and the environment will deplete as well.

This year I was approached to write about California’s Cal Water H2O Challenge. As an environmental advocate, I find the value of conserving water and educating others on this matter an important part of living in this world. It’s not just California who needs to concentrate on conserving water but everyone around the country. Water is one of the most precious resources and we need it to survive. Below you will find details about the Cal Water H2O Challenge and how you can get involved.

waterchallenge

The Cal Water H2O Challenge is a project-based, environmentally-focused
competition for classrooms, grades 4-6. Designed in conjunction with
NAAEE, the WestEd K-12 Alliance, and Cal Water, and aligned with the
Common Core State Standards and complimentary to the Next Generation
Science Standards, Cal Water H2O Challenge offers a unique opportunity
for upper elementary teachers to facilitate their students’ learning of
standards-based content, while developing the core understanding of
environmental principles necessary to becoming science-literate citizens.

Since running the Garden Club at my son’s school for the past 3 years, I’ve learned a lot about water conservation as well as teaching the students the necessity of it. As the drought no doubt will continue for another couple of years it’s important for me to teach my son and the students about conserving water. One of the important lessons I impart on the kids is about distribution of water. While my son learns to dump his unused water in our garden to feed our plants, at school I try to teach the students to do the same. Too often I see kids just throw away the water bottle instead of recycling at the school. I’m not sure if the teachers dump the water in the plants around the school – which I hope they do – but whenever I see a child pour out the water on the ground, I stop them and tell them to pour it in the plants. I then explain to them that not only are they helping to water the plants but because of our drought situation, the school is watering the grounds less. And the “ah-ha!” moment that alights in their eyes is such a delight as they realize that there is no need to waste water. Kids are constantly learning and it’s important to teach them the values and structures of being responsible and caring.

calwater

Although the Cal Water H2O challenge is for certain school districts in California, on the site you can take a pledge for your school or classroom to show your support for water conservation. But the most exciting part of this competition is winning prizes! Here are the prizes offered to the winners:

Grand Prize
Class Celebration: Classroom tent-camping
trip to the Santa Monica Mountains with
NatureBridge
Class Funding: $3,500 grant
Extras: Cal Water prize packs for every student

2nd Place
Class Celebration: A Pizza Party
Class Funding: $2,500 grant
Extras: Cal Water prize packs for every student

3rd Place
Class Funding: $2,000 grant
Extras: Cal Water prize packs for every student

4th Place
Class Funding: $1,000 grant
Extras: Cal Water prize packs for every student

All Participant Prizes
Student Recognition: An official certificate of
participation for every student
Teacher Recognition: A teacher certificate
Teacher Gift: An AMEX gift card

And here are the important highlights of the competition:

* Registration for the Cal Water H2O Challenge ends on January 31,
2017

* The students of participating classrooms initiate, develop, and
implement a 4-8 week-long project (or longer at teacher discretion),
focusing on caring for water. This class-based project explores water as
a global resource and as a local resource, while tackling a local water
problem in an individual and community-based endeavor.

* Upon completion of the project, students create a final portfolio
documenting their work. This portfolio, along with accompanying
cover sheets, student reflections, and a teacher reflection, constitute
the final submission. Submissions are due February 28, 2017.

* Objective Rubric: Judging of the competition will be conducted by a
panel of experts working in education and/or an environmental field
and will use an objective rubric, developed with the help of the West
Ed / K-12 Alliance. This rubric evaluates the water topic choice, project
goals, action plan, and outcomes, long term benefits, integration with
student learning and curriculum, student participation, impact on
student learning, presentation, and impact on teacher practice.

So if you do live in California and would like your school to participate in the challenge, please visit the contest website for more info about registration:

https://challenge.calwater.com/

Remember that registration ends on January 31, 2017, so as soon as school resumes after winter break, tell your teachers, your principals, anyone who is involved in the school district about this exciting, educational, and rewarding competition! Even if your school doesn’t win tangible prizes, remember that the students will win merits in responsibility and caring for the environment.

Best of luck to your school and don’t forget to register!

Disclaimer: The product(s)were sent to the author for review by the manufacturer/PR. All reviews on “Happymomblogger” remain unbiased and unpaid and are the sole decision of the author. The opinions of these product(s) were not influenced in any way, shape, or form. As always, please read the ingredients carefully when trying new products.

Please read the labels and ingredients carefully and follow all manufacturer’s instructions (if any). The products selected for the giveaway were generously donated by the companies/PR to help readers learn more about their products. The winner’s choice in using/consuming these products are entirely up to the winner and will not hold the author and her family liable nor the companies/PR liable. These products are made with non-toxic ingredients but always be safe with what you use and consume.

http://www.topmommyblogs.com/blogs/in.php?id=storm

Posted by: suzan | December 19, 2016

Give the Gift of Nature – Holiday Edition

BAY LEAF TREES

Jingle bells are jingling, cold weather approaching, and bright colorful decoration are upon us as the winter holiday season has quickly arrived. Each year it seems as if stores are putting up their holiday decorations earlier than the last and advertisement for Black Friday deals have literally attacked my inbox even months before. I have barely put away my Halloween decorations before ads of sales and savings make their way into my mailbox. And each year I tell myself to start shopping earlier so that I don’t stress out during the holiday season when everyone else is buying presents at the last minute. I want to relax and savor moments of freedom and quietness from the rush of crowds sure to camp out at my favorite stores.

But buying should be done responsibly and with the environment in mind. Not only are the holidays the most festive time of the year, it is also the most wasteful. We may spend thousands of dollars buying gifts and wrapping paper and decorations without really thinking about the impact all of these things create for our planet.

If you’re still looking for gift ideas, below I’ve listed companies and gift ideas with the environment in mind. Most of these items can be found at natural grocery stores as well as certain major supermarkets and specialty stores. You can also find their products on their website.

FOOD GIFTS:

Sure, most people enjoy receiving gifts of food for the holidays but choosing the right ones are important if you take extra care in buying the right kind. Food gifts can be gourmet or simpler depending on who you’re giving it too and how personal it is. And if you’re a great baker, baked goods should look as delectable as possible and try to only use natural and organic ingredients.

Gourmet Coffee and/or Tea – when giving coffee or tea, choose brands that take coffee and tea seriously. We may feel inclined to buy the ones we see in supermarkets, but take care in choosing companies that grow coffee from Rainforest Certified plantations and are Fair Trade. Both certifications verify that coffee is grown without damaging precious land and resources and proceeds go back to the farms and workers. Tea should be high quality and preferably grown without any pesticides or herbicides. There are many varieties of tea but the most popular ones are green, black, oolong, and chai. Coffee should be organic as well to ensure the beans aren’t sprayed with toxic pesticides or grown in chemically treated soil. Just like any other non-organic food, chemicals can leak into the food you eat and into your body. Good organic and fair trade companies include Newman’s Own Organics (http://www.newmansown.com/) which donates all proceeds to charity and Equal Exchange which supports small farmers, their communities, and the environment (http://equalexchange.coop/).

Gourmet Snacks – I love making food baskets for individuals who enjoy opening up the gift and selecting something different to try each day. When it comes to snacks or food in baskets, it’s a nice thought to pack items that the recipient don’t usually get for themselves because they’re hard to find. Buy items from brands that are the recipient’s favorites and in similar categories so you can include several different products. Recently I tried a new brand of organic popcorn called Quinn (http://www.quinnsnacks.com/) and I was so impressed with their products that I had to buy a few bags to give to my nieces and nephews. I enjoy freshly popped popcorn but not the kind that you find in chemically treated plastic bags. Quinn Microwave Popcorn come in a special non-toxic microwavable bag using only organic, Non-GMO Certified corn. The ingredients are simple yet the flavors are full of complex sensations. The popcorn are airy and light and taste as fresh as if you plucked the corn from the field and popped them on the stove. There are currently five different flavors of microwave popcorn and the boxes are cute and whimsical enough to put into gift baskets. If you’re making a theme out of the gift baskets (which is always fun!), I recommend a movie theme to include Quinn Microwave Popcorn, healthy sweets such as organic chocolates and gummy candy (http://www.surfsweets.com/), some natural soda or juice, and DVDs or movie theater tickets.

quinnsnacks

(Sorry, Elf on the Shelf…all the Quinn popcorn were popped!)

NATURE GIFTS:

In going along with the theme of natural gifts, giving gifts that come from nature is suitable for many. Nature gifts include anything that comes from and gives back to nature. When purchasing gifts made from nature, try to buy sustainable products which means products that can regrow and does not take away from its natural source.

Plants – There’s something quite unique about plants as gifts. Plants can be great gifts for virtually anyone of any age and interest. The recipient doesn’t have to be a plant lover to enjoy plants. When you see a beautiful plant in a decorative pot it always brings a smile no matter what. But take care in buying plants that are easy to manage for the novice and for the more experienced gardener, give them something unique and more complex. Visit your local nursery or buy online from well-known nurseries and farms. Be careful when buying plants from grocery stores as most of them are conventionally grown and may not last as long. Plants make great gifts because they can last many many years and can also be planted into the ground to last even longer.

Experiences – While experience gifts can fall into almost any category, this year give the gift of nature. A great and meaningful experience gift can be an annual membership to a museum or park. Many museum memberships can be low cost but offer so much for members. If you know the interests of your recipient, give them museum memberships tailored to what they like – art museum for art lovers; nature museum for the conservationist; automotive museums for the car lover, and so forth.

GIFTS FOR THE HOME:

Buying gifts for the home can be tricky especially if you don’t know the recipient well. But gifts for the home can be meaningful and useful no matter who you give them to. Just keep the gift simple yet elegant and consider a gift that can be used multiple times.

Keeping the house clean – For that one person who is a clean freak but also an environmentally aware shopper, consider giving gift baskets from companies who produce eco-friendly supplies. A great company to try would be If You Care (http://www.ifyoucare.com/) where all their products are sourced and manufactured using renewable, recyclable, and sustainable materials. And of course one of my most favorite home care company is Earth Friendly Products (ECOS). With their new line of environmentally-friendly and non-toxic cleaning products (http://ecos.com/), you’ll definitely find some great products to put inside the basket. Try their newest Hypoallergenic Dish Soap in Winterpine scent which is perfect for this holiday season.

Putting together a non-toxic, sustainable household gift basket is a great way to show you care about your recipient and help them become more “green” as well. The gift basket can include items such as natural cleaners for the home, natural sponges and reusable cleaning cloths.

winter

For the gardener – Gardening is one of the most relaxing and rewarding experience a person can have. When you grow your own garden whether full of edible plants or not, you are enjoying the beautiful gifts of nature while giving back to nature as well. Consider a garden basket for a specific garden or yard. Try a butterfly garden where the recipient can plant flowers and plants that attract butterflies. Add in seeds, some plant seedlings, gloves, shovels, and pruning shears and your recipient will enjoy a bountiful garden for many years.

For the food connoisseur – Who doesn’t love food, right? Especially if the food is delicious and healthy. But consider giving gourmet food to make the recipient feel extra special and appreciated. Go beyond even that and buy from farmers markets and locally sourced farms and manufacturers. Locally produced products helps these smaller companies, reduce carbon footprint, and are usually very unique and special. You can find locally sourced products at natural grocery stores and your neighborhood small business shops.

There are many factors to consider when buying gifts to help the environment as well as making it special. When you give gifts of nature that are sourced responsibly, promote healthier living, and are naturally beautiful, you are showing your gift recipients that you care about their health and well- being.

Happy Holidays and have a fun and safe shopping experience!

Disclaimer: The product(s)were sent to the author for review by the manufacturer/PR. All reviews on “Happymomblogger” remain unbiased and unpaid and are the sole decision of the author. The opinions of these product(s) were not influenced in any way, shape, or form. As always, please read the ingredients carefully when trying new products.

Please read the labels and ingredients carefully and follow all manufacturer’s instructions (if any). The products selected for the giveaway were generously donated by the companies/PR to help readers learn more about their products. The winner’s choice in using/consuming these products are entirely up to the winner and will not hold the author and her family liable nor the companies/PR liable. These products are made with non-toxic ingredients but always be safe with what you use and consume.

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