Friday, December 30, 2016

Pumpkin Season Coming to an End!

Sniff, sniff ... my two FAVORITE and AFFORDABLE all-natural GLUTEN FREE pumpkin flavored breakfast items are due to leave the shelves this month: Trader Joe's Pumpkin O's ($2.99), a delicious low-sugar cold cereal that somehow tastes just like the Apple Jacks cereal of my childhood (minus the artificial aftertaste) and Trader Joe's Gluten Free Pumpkin Pancake Mix ($4.49). Every year I stock up on several boxes of both to get me through the winter and summer ... until they return again in September. Do yourself a favor and pick some up before they disappear for another year.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Non GMO Pirate's Booty Only for SOME Customers - Others Get GMO

Pirate's Booty: SOME Packages are GMO-Free -- MANY Are NOT. 
Arrrrrr ya kidding me? Pirates Brand - the company that makes the wildly popular Pirate's Booty snack line - has FINALLY gone GMO free ... BUT... only for SOME customers and SOME stores. If you shop at Whole Foods, for example, Pirates Brand has decided YOU deserve the more expensive non-GMO corn and canola oil ingredients now found in their "for special retailers only" products. If you shop at Target, Albertson's or another regular retailer though, Pirates Brand has decided your family DOES NOT  deserves the same non-GMO ingredients, therefore you get the old genetically altered cheaper stuff they've been hocking for years. Sorry! Don't believe me? Pirates Brand states this very fact right on their own website: "...we recently began offering ... products that are Non-GMO Project Verified. Currently, these products can be found at select retailers...Our [same]... snack products [sold at other stores] contain ingredients that may have been genetically modified." 

To make matters worse, the company talks down to those of us who may dare question why they chose to STILL use GMO corn and canola for SOME of us: "Many consumers do not understand that the vast majority of all food crops have been genetically modified" they state on their FAQ page "and that bioengineering technology is only one of a number of technologies used to genetically modify crops. Currently, the majority of food crops grown in the U.S. have some bioengineering. For example, more than 85% of corn (the key ingredient in our products) is bioengineered." 

Yes - Pirates Brand - but YOU decided to purchase that non-bioengineered 15% for your more persnickety health conscious customers. Almost nothing infuriates me more than when a food company PRESUMES their customers are idiots and have no clue how the GMO industry works. Many of us BANNED your products from our homes and schools two years ago -- and because of your elitist insistence to NOW provide a healthier, more costly product ONLY to the louder voices that demand it (i.e, the Whole Foods crowd) you shall remain banned. What a shame you chose not to listen to your REGULAR consumers (i.e., the NON Whole Foods crowd) who begged you to replace GMO ingredients for ALL children. Instead, you felt the need to school us with your ridiculous justifications and to CONTINUE to feed us (or MOST of us anyhow) your cheap GMO ingredients while reserving the good stuff for the "rich kids."

informed my readers two years ago about a healthier, ALWAYS GMO-FREE alternative to your products: the ridiculously delicious Bearitos Veggie Puffs and Cheddar Puffs. Since you have flat out refused to make your products free of GMOs for ALL, I will shout from the rooftops (via blog posts and social media) until EVERY parent realizes what you've done (and failed to do) and inform them that there ARE ethical company out there like Bearitos who believe ALL children are worthy of the healthiest ingredients possible, not just the select "Whole Foods few." And it is those companies who deserve our dollars.

Bearitos Non-GMO Alternative for ALL Children

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

All-Natural Pillow Made with Hypoallergenic Kapok

Organic Kapok Pillow by Bean Products
So, you've "gone green" and bought yourself some organic sheets (maybe) and forgotten (probably) to "green" the pillow INSIDE the organic pillow case. No one should be resting their head on chemically treated polyester anymore. Ditch that toxic thing and go all natural! What are your choices? Well, there's down, wool and latex -- but many people are allergic to these. Buckwheat is GREAT but it feels a bit like sleeping on magic beans, which just doesn't work for some folk. Cotton FILLED pillows are nearly impossible to find since (a) cotton is highly flammable (on it's own) and (b) as a pillow filling, it clumps.

I had tried ALL of these "green" pillow options myself and not found a single one I loved UNTIL I discovered Kapok. Kapok is a silky, cotton-like fiber that covers the seeds of the tropical Ceiba Tree, (aka the Kapok tree). It makes the PERFECT natural pillow filling because it is soft yet firm, has no scent, and does not need to be chemically treated. Best of all Kapok is sustainable because no chemicals are needed to grow it, it is not genetically modified and no crops are destroyed when it is harvested. Pair the Kapok filling with an organic cotton cover - and you've got the perfect pillow!

Kapok Fiber from the Ceiba (aka Kapok) Tree - Photo Courtesy of Bean Products
I bought my organic Kapok pillow for about $40 from Bean Products via However, NaturepedicBrentwood Home and other online retailers also sell organic Kapok pillows at reasonable prices.

NOTE: Whatever you do - DO NOT replace your polyester pillow with a foam, gel or corn stock (aka PLA fiber) pillow. All of these are just as toxic as polyester (if not more so) so don't fall for any green-washing marketing spiel that tries to tell you otherwise!

Saturday, July 30, 2016

Health and Weight Loss Benefits of the 5:2 Fast Diet

My Healthy and Delicious "Fasting" Breakfast on the 5:2 Fast Diet
I recently discovered a healthy eating plan I truly believe I can stick with - it's called the 5:2 Fast Diet. Personally, I hate the word "diet" so I prefer to call it an "eating plan." It was created by the English physician Dr. Michael Mosley. Basically, it involves restricting your eating JUST 2 days (ANY two non-consecutive days) per week. The other 5 days - you can eat anything you like. The funny thing is, restricting your diet those two days -- magically leads your body to want healthier foods the other five days. It's like your body begins to understand that it CAN have whatever it wants, it just feels better if it doesn't go overboard. And the cravings really get in check all week when you eliminate sugar and carbs just two days. It's shockingly easy to fast two days when you can tell your brain that TOMORROW you can have those chips or that ice cream. And when tomorrow comes, your brain tends to say "I don't HAVE to have to have the chips AND ice cream today - because tomorrow I can have whatever I don't have today." In other words, you never end up stuffing your face - because you realize you have 4 other days that week to give into those cravings (which have diminished like you will NOT believe!).

Your two restricted days are considered "fasting" days because you are only allowed 500 calories as a woman or 600 as a man. I have found that a big brunch (organic eggs, all-natural turkey sausage and organic salad with olive oil and balsamic vinegar) and a light dinner (chicken and vegetables) fit these criteria and gets me though the day just fine. Personally, I chose to eschew carbs, dairy, soy, and sugar on my two fasting days. Just makes life easier - and means I am eating at my utmost healthiest for almost 1/3rd of the week with little effort.

There is a ton of science behind fasting, which indicates that intermittent fasting makes us healthier and actually adds to our longevity. As Dr. Mosley himself reported in a Huffington post interview: “I went into (fasting) quite skeptical because I’ve looked at diets over the years and I’ve always assumed they’re rubbish. Really seriously rubbish. But the people who study in this area (of fasting) are really top scientists — world-class scientists who are hugely reputable in their areas. And they were all coming at it from their areas of expertise: cancer, dementia, diabetes — they were approaching it from different angles, but coming to the same conclusion.”

I've been doing the 5:2 Fast Diet for three weeks now myself, and I can tell you I sleep much better, my clothes are loser, I feel much more energetic, and I don't crave sugar at all anymore (although I do allow myself dessert when I feel like having it on my five non-fasting days). Reaping such benefits with so little effort means this is a plan I can DEFINITELY stick with ... hopefully for life.

ADDED BONUS: I save money and don't have to think about shopping or meal prep two days a week! That's a VERY welcome break to my busy week!

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

How to Make Your Own Cinnamon Powder

My kids LOVE our simple homemade cinnamon toast: toasted organic bread (gluten free for the one with Celiac) spread with softened organic butter and sprinkled with organic cinnamon powder. Well, while making toast this morning - woops! - we realized the cinnamon container was empty! What to do? What to do? Thanks to a cooking class I attended over the weekend with the Farmer's Market Groupie, an idea popped into my head. Why not grind our own cinnamon? Elisha Reverby (our cooking class instructor and owner of Farmer's Market Groupie) informed us that ALL spices, seasonings and seeds are best when FRESHLY ground. Those we buy in jars have been sitting on a shelf losing their flavor, scent and overall health benefits for months (maybe even years). Elisha used a mortar and pestle to mash the herbs and seeds we were using in our recipe -- and one of those ingredients (LIGHT BULB MOMENT) was a cinnamon stick. Then, this morning (2ND LIGHT BULB MOMENT) I recalled that some people use coffee grinders for such purposes - and that this might be a faster method for grinding up a whole cinnamon stick. So, we got out our 25 year old Krups Fast Touch coffee grinder (which still works as well as it did the day we bought it), popped in a stick of cinnamon, and PRESTO! We had fresh, aromatic cinnamon powder in seconds. My kids were totally very impressed! And, they found the flavor to be much yummier than the the old powder we were using. Looks like we've discovered a new way to make spices at our house!

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Best Organic Face Cream

Let me tell you, I've tried dozens of all-natural moisturizers and face creams - and nothing compares to Honey Girl Organics Face and Eye Creme Extra Sensitive. Mind you - I do NOT have sensitive skin. I was simply looking for a good cream that would make my skin feel soft and hydrated and this particular product did the trick. I was willing to pay a high price if I could just find a natural moisturizer that:

a) Didn't make me break out or clog pores
b) Didn't have an odd smell or too much of ANY smell
c) Contained NO artificial ingredients, chemicals or fragrance
c) Contained organic ingredients
d) Didn't feel like it was sitting on top of my skin
e) Would not feel too light

Well, I didn't have to. Honey Girl Organics definitely doesn't break the bank. One 1.75 fluid oz glass jar of Honey Girl Organics Face and Eye Cream Extra Sensitive lasts for 30-60 days and retails for about $32 at Whole Foods, local health food stores, the Honey Girl Organics website, and Amazon. That price is a steal when you consider the fact that this product contains the USDA CERTIFIED ORGANIC label, a rare distinction in the cosmetics industry, and that it received the HIGHEST SAFETY SCORE POSSIBLE in the EWG Skin Deep Cosmetics Database.

Honey Girl Organics makes lighter moisturizers (and many other amazing organic skin products) but for me, the Face and Eye Cream Extra Sensitive is the ticket. So many skin "creams" these days feel too heavy for true absorption. Not this one. When I apply it (in the morning and before bed) I can literally feel the honey, royal jelly and olive oil ingredients penetrating deep into my epidermis.

I've purchased several jars just to make sure I never run out.

Monday, July 25, 2016

Delicious Affordable All-Natural Ice Cream

I just discovered affordable heaven in the freezer section of my local (aka REGULAR) grocery store: Old-Fashioned Vanilla Ice Cream by Tillamook! I have not tasted ice cream this creamy and pure in decades. You will be shocked at the fat content - which is lower than far less tasty and less natural brands. To make matters even better - Tillamook's Old-Fashioned Vanilla uses 100% natural ingredients, NO corn syrup, and - like all Tillamook dairy products - it comes from cows NEVER treated with artificial growth hormones. Many of us don't have access to organic ice cream every day (or at all), which makes Tillamook Ice Cream the next healthiest choice. It's available at most major grocery stores, is priced right (at about $5 for 1.75 Qts) and - to be frank - tastes better than many pricey organic ice cream brands anyhow.

INGREDIENTS: Cream, Sugar, Condensed Skim Milk, Whole Milk, Egg Yolks, Vanilla Extract, Tara Gum, Guar Gum.

NOTE: Some question the use of tara gum and guar gum. Tillamook - and other dairy companies - use these natural plant-derived thickener to give their ice cream an extra creamy texture. It doesn't add or subtract from the flavor though, so personally, I'd love to see how it tastes without.

Monday, June 27, 2016

List of Most Toxic and Least Toxic Sunscreens

Every summer the highly-regarded health advocacy organization EWG (Environmental Working Group) produces their  "Guide to Sunscreens." It is literally my sunscreen bible. This section of the EWG website allows you to do two very helpful things (1) search the name of your current sunscreen to view a report on how safe (or UNSAFE) the ingredients are, and (2) view a list of the "Best Scoring Sunscreens" so you can purchase the safest sunscreens currently available on the market. Scores and recommendations DO change from year to year as manufacturers add (or remove) ingredients, so it is crucial that you review the EWG Guide to Sunscreen each year. Most of the sunscreens EWG recommends are available on Amazon (with FREE shipping) and many are affordable. Sadly, most of the LEAST TOXIC sunscreen brands are not available at your regular grocer or drugstore, although they are available at Whole Foods Market and other local health food stores. Be sure to check out the "Worst Scoring Sunscreen for Kids" section (which, honestly, applies to adults as well). And remember: ALWAYS avoid HIGH SPFs (anything above 30) and aerosol spray sunscreens. View or download the full EWG Guide to Sunscreens report now to find out why and to learn more about what you should be looking for and what you should be avoiding this summer.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Maya Rudolph Tells Us Why Tampons Are Toxic

Standard grocery store tampons and pads have been doused in chemicals for YEARS. If you love comedy and happen to CARE about your hoo-ha (or your wife's or your children's) then watch this hilariously honest video and buy Seventh Generation (or other organic feminine products) from now on. #ComeClean


Thursday, March 24, 2016

Why is There Lead in My Lipstick?

Did you know there are toxic chemicals and lead in almost all popular commercial cosmetic and body care products? Check out this informative "Story of Cosmetics"video, which is just one part of the brilliant "Story of Stuff" video series about toxins in our world and how we can acknowledge, address and avoid them.

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Famous Fast Food Burger Chain Now Going Antibiotic-Free

Hurray! In-N-Out Burger -- the ONLY fast food burger chain I ever take my kids to -- just announced last week that it plans to stop using meat from animals treated with antibiotics. "Our company is committed to beef that is not raised with antibiotics important to human medicine. We've asked our suppliers to accelerate their progress toward establishing antibiotic alternatives,” said VP of Quality for In-N-Out Keith Brazeau in a statement to Reuters.

This popular west coast chain has always been known for its exclusive use of fresh ingredients: fresh (never frozen) meat, hand cut french fries, and shakes made from real ice cream. So it's somewhat surprising that it took a public letter from the CALPIRG Education Fund to get In-N-Out to make the change. Because of the serious issues now related to antibiotic resistant in human beings though, several activist groups have been pressuring restaurants and food suppliers to stop purchasing meat treated with antibiotics.

According to the Center for Disease Control, "there is strong evidence that some antibiotic resistance in bacteria is caused by antibiotic use in food animals." And as reported by the FDA in The Daily Meal, approximately 70 percent of antibiotics sold in the United States end up in animal feed. In United States alone, over 23,000 people die every year from antibiotic resistant infections, so this is not something to be taken lightly.

We need to be able to rely on antibiotics for medicine when true bacterial infections set in, but our over reliance on them (in hand sanitizers, cleaning products, meat, even shoes) is actually making us immune to their benefits.

Thank you In-N-Out for addressing the antibiotic resistance problem (and for making killer french fries and milk shakes). Now, if we can just get you to commit to using non-gmo oils in your fryer and hormone-free milk in your milkshakes, we could ACTUALLY start labeling you a health food chain!