Green Mama

 
 

In my functional nutrition program, I've been learning much about the role toxic load plays in health and disease. It's something many of us never give much thought to, but the lotion we use on our bodies, the detergent we put in our laundry, the pollution we breathe, the food we eat, it all contributes to our toxic input. 

Aside from my growing knowledge base on the topic, having a child has of course heightened my awareness. But, the tipping point for me was when my husband was diagnosed with bladder cancer last summer. It was pretty shocking since he was only 39 at the time. I felt really helpless for a while, but after some thought, I realized that there were things that I could start doing to feel like I was contributing in a positive way. For me, that was further improving our dietary habits and taking a good long look at the products we were using in our home.

Of course it is impossible to avoid everything. It's a fine line to walk between being informed and being a lunatic. I have been focusing on what I CAN control and over the last 6 months or so, have been slowly replacing things in our home to products that can help reduce our toxic exposure. This is a list of some of my favorite green products I've found so far. They are linked througout the post and at the end.

 GLASS FOOD STORAGE

If there is only one thing you switch out today I would start with this. Food storage is one of the items that is the least expensive and can make a big impact. At our house, we are storing leftovers on a daily basis and had been using plastic containers for years- even putting them in the microwave- yikes.  I recommend buying them in a set, rather than separately as they are much more affordable this way.  I bought this 24-piece set with BPA-free lids at Bed Bath and Beyond using my 20% off coupon and they have been great!

AVANCHY BAMBOO KIDS BOWL

This beautiful bamboo bowl comes with a silicone spoon perfect for little hands and mouths. What's really cool about this product is that the suction bottom is detachable, making it functional after kids meal time or after they outgrow the need. They come in five fun colors and also make a divided plate option.  The only drawback is they cannot be put in the dishwasher or microwave, but that honestly hasn't bothered me. 

SEVENTH GENERATION

This is an all around great plant-based brand (plus Maya Rudolph's commercials are gold) and I buy a lot of their products on a regular basis. I stay on top of my Target Cartwheel app or Sprouts weekly and stock up during a good sale. I've been using their eucalyptus and lavender laundry detergent for a while now- it makes our clothes smell so nice without being overbearing.

Their dishwasher pods totally impressed me, as they don't leave the cloudy residue on glasses and flatware like every other brand I've used.  I've also tried their counter and bathroom cleaning sprays, but my most favorite product is their Purely Clean Liquid dish and hand soap in the lemon and tea tree scent. It smells AMAZING. Skip their toilet cleaner.

BEES WAX FOOD WRAPS

These have been my newest addition but one of my favorites. In the past, I used a ton of plastic wrap and sandwich baggies and now rarely have to reach for them. These sustainably-made, reusable and breathable cotton cloths are covered in bees wax, jojoba oil and tree resin and come in a variety of sizes. The warmth of your hands seals them around whatever food item you are covering- sandwiches, bowls, cut avocados, bread, really anything you want to store- and keeps them fresh. If you subscribe to Thrive Market, they have a gonga price.

MCCULLOCH STEAM CLEANER

Cleaning the floors has always been one of my least favorite and neglected chores- wringing out the mop, emptying and refilling the bucket with clean water and the floors staying wet for an hour after you've cleaned them- pain in the ass. And when you have toddlers that love to throw their food on the floor and a drooly bulldog that loves to eat said food, you end up cleaning your floors... a lot. Then there are the cleaning solutions- they just smell toxic.

This cleaner literally solves all those problems. Using only steam, it can remove even the most dried and stuck-on food. The hot steam does all the disinfecting, so there is no need for "cleaner". It dries within minutes and leaves absolutely no streaks on the floor. The reusable cleaning pads are machine washable and for $17, I bought an extra pack of pads to have on hand since I run it on our tile every other day.

Also worth mentioning, are the included hand-held attachments for use on the oven range for baked on food, the grill or for cleaning grout (seriously, its witchcraft how clean it gets). There's also a glass attachment for use on windows and mirrors. I could write a whole blog post on my love for this thing (maybe I will). My sweet Mama ordered it for me a couple months ago and I honestly don't know how I lived without it. 

DIY COUNTERTOP CLEANER

I am a little OCD about the kitchen counters always being wiped down and clean and had a serious Clorox wipe addiction for years.  Nowadays, I make my own spray using vinegar, water and essential oils (google this for recipes). Lately, I've been using these glass spray bottles that have both a spray and concentrated stream. 

MRS. MEYER'S CLEAN DAY HANDSOAPS

It seems like I wash my hands every 10 minutes these days and these paraben, phthalate and triclosan-free hand soaps do not dry out my skin and smell fantastic.  My favs are Rosemary and Bluebell. They also have pretty killer seasonal scents like this spring's Peony. I had their Iowa Pine scent candle burning pretty much the whole month of December. 

GROVIA CLOTH DIAPERS

I don't know who this crunchy girl is writing this, but I am so proud to say that we have cloth diapered Nixon since he was a few weeks old. I never thought in a million years I would even consider it, but here we are, 18 months in. I admittedly do a little more laundry, but love that I don't have to buy diapers- as the greener brands can get pretty pricey. This is the brand we have used exclusively and it's been great for us. I can write a post on this specifically if anyone is interested in knowing more about our journey with cloth. 

I'd like to become more educated on essential oils so that I'm using them properly and safely, but...time. So if anyone has any tips to share, I'm all ears. I'm also desperately searching for a non-toxic, moisturizing shampoo and conditioner safe for color treated hair that doesn't cost a weeks' worth of groceries. Anyone?

Of course, as a dietitian, I can't end this post without stressing the role of food in managing the toxic load on our bodies. Consuming a fresh, whole foods diet full of fruits and vegetables to support our bodies' detoxification pathways is just as (if not more) important as being conscious and selective of the products we use on our bodies and in our home. 

- Tara 

Baking with Coconut Flour

Many people are turning to flour alternatives, and for a variety of reasons. Be it gluten sensitivity or allergy, the need for a lower glycemic flour, or a desire for a more nutrient dense option, people are indeed looking beyond the standard white, bleached flour.

There are honestly so many alternatives to choose from today, but coconut flour is one that I would encourage you to try. Here are some basics to know...

Coconut flour is made by separating and removing the milk from the the white meat of the coconut. That meat is then dried and ground to a fine powder, suitable for cooking and baking. 

Not only is it a low glycemic food, but also provides a good ratio of carbohydrate, fat and protein and with 6 g of fiber per 2 tablespoon, makes it an excellent source of fiber. That fiber  helps to maintain stable blood sugars by prolonging the release of glucose into your blood stream, which is something we all could use when consuming baked goods. 

Due to the high fiber content, coconut flour is much more dense and absorbent, so it does not behave exactly as regular flour. To achieve the right consistency, it is recommended to use 4 eggs per one cup of flour or to add liquid to the flour in a 1:1 ratio. Admittedly this does take a little trial and error, but once your find the sweet spot, you are good to go! You can also cut the classic flour with the coconut flour, to maintain a more workable consistency. 

Coconut Secret was kind enough to let me test out their Raw Coconut Flour, so I decided to take it for a spin in some blueberry muffins. Not only did I appreciate the nutritional aspects, but the flour lended a beautiful and subtle coconut flavor to the muffins. They were delicious. 

Coconut Secret's coconut flour is made from 100% raw, organic, unbleached coconuts. It is produced in a dedicated facility, so there is ZERO cross-contamination with potential allergens. In addition to baking, it can be used to thicken sauces and smoothies or crust fish or chicken for pan-frying.

They have a variety of other great products; coconut aminos, vinegars, nectars, and sauces. I also tried their pure Coconut Oil, which was absolute heaven and gone in less than a week. If you'd like to try some of Coconut Secret's products, you can find some of them at Whole Foods Markets, small, local grocers and online retailers (Thrive Market). 

I much prefer ordering from small companies that truly care about the quality and impact of their product. I just ordered another tin of flour and plan to try it out in some holiday recipes this season. 

- Tara

*Coconut Secret provided this product in exchange for my review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Shaved Brussel Sprouts with Quinoa

I should probably change the name of my blog to We Love Brussel Sprouts. We seriously eat them at our house at least once a week. They are my husband's favorite vegetable and honestly, they quickly became mine after I learned how to roast them. They have one of the highest antioxidant contents around and are a great source of nutrients that so many of us are missing out on.

While at Trader Joe's recently, I noticed a bag of shaved Brussel sprouts and decided to try them out. I wasn't quite sure what to do with them, so I threw them in a saute pan with some olive oil, seasoning and salt. I had some leftover quinoa in the fridge so I threw that in too and wouldn't you know, it just worked! 

If you don't shop at Trader Joe's, whole Brussel sprouts will do the job just fine. Either slice them extremely thin by hand or use a mandolin (I am pretty clumsy so I stay away from it). 

What you'll need:

  • 3 cups of shaved Brussel sprouts
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp of Mrs. Dash Garlic & Herb seasoning 
  • pinch of salt, to your taste
  • 1 cup of cooked white quinoa

Cook quinoa in low-sodium chicken broth as package directs, set aside. Heat olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add Brussel sprouts, seasonings and salt and mix until well coated. Cook until sprouts are tender and bright green, 5-10 minutes. Turn down heat, stir in quinoa and mix. I often serve with a sprinkle of parmesan cheese, but it is still perfectly delicious without!

-Tara

Nixon Turns Uno!

 

As I sit and type this, I can't believe I have a one year old son. As everyone warned me, this year indeed flew by, but was by far the best one of my life.

So many memories pop up in my head as I reflect on the last year. I remember how relieved we were to finally have him home with us and out of the NICU. I couldn't believe that this tiny being would be my son forever. We completely fumbled through that first night, going through his entire wardrobe due to leaky diapers and spit-up! We were delirious! 

I will never forget the absolute joy I felt when he gave us his first belly giggles at the simplicity of Rhett jingling a gold bracelet in his hand. The first roll-over, crawl, foods and steps- its like a part of me was born again each time. 

I remember the absolute anguish I felt at the prospect of returning to my full-time position and leaving him all day. It's been tough, but being able to be home with him every day and be the one changing the diapers and reading books is something I know I will never regret. 

Its hard not to be anxious for the next stage and all the firsts and fun it will bring, but for now I'm just soaking up these last few days of having a "baby". From the moment he was born, our little Nixon has radiated happiness. He's determined (hello Rhett), kind, adapable, affectionate, curious, silly, and just busy allllll the time. I wouldn't have him any other way. 

We decided to throw a little fiesta to celebrate our sweet boy turning one and us not totally sucking at parenting. It was a great day with friends, but extra special as Nixon's Auntie Ernie, Grammy & Grandad and Nonni & Pops traveled far and wide to be with us. 

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