Friday, September 13, 2013

9 of the Worse Things to Pack in Your Child's Lunch and 9 Alternatives

It is back to school time and everyone is gearing up for the new school year.  New crayons, backpacks, clothes… why not think about a new approach to your child's lunch.  Listed below are the top 9 items you should NOT send with your child to school for lunch and what you can easily replace those items with.  Let's start your child off on the right foot to a great school year and a healthy life.

1.  White processed breads, instead, use 100% whole wheat.

Did you know that there is a difference in breads that claim to be whole wheat compared to 100% whole wheat?  Companies can claim whole wheat on their packaging if the bread contains over 51% whole wheat, meaning there is still bleach used in the refining process.  If you want to take bleach out of your child's diet, only serve 100% whole wheat products.  Another alternative would be whole wheat tortillas, or even a gluten-free bread.  The best alternative is a homemade bread so you know exactly what is in it and what your child is eating.

2.  Juice boxes/sodas, instead, pack homemade lemon aid or flavored water.
 We can sum this up in one word… Sugar!!!!!  Sodas and juice box are chalked full of more "simple" sugar than a child should consume in a single day!  Simple sugar is very different from the complex sugars found in natural fruits and vegetables.  Why is this a big deal?  In the short term, simple sugars affect: mood, behavior, attentiveness, ability to concentrate, and immune system (your body's ability to make white blood cells). In the long term, simple sugars have been known to cause childhood obesity, diabetes, cancer, and heart disease.  Also in recent news there has been several reported cases of mold growing in the juice boxes!  Yuck!   So what should you send your child to school with?  Water is the number one choice for hydration and health, but if you child doesn't like the taste of water, flavor it up with organic fruits such as lemons, strawberries, oranges, or even pineapple.  Your child and your child's teacher will thank you for not pumping them full of sugar in the middle of the school day.

3.  Prepackaged lunches, instead, anything homemade!

We all know that packaged foods are lacking in nutrients and full of chemicals that have all kinds of harmful effects on our children.  But, a recent study (article on study), on Lunchables shows that the high salt content affects circulation and therefore blood pressure just 30 minutes after eating a Lunchable.  The better alternative would be anything that you can make at home, so you know exactly what is in it.  This week try organic hummus, spread and rolled up on a 100% whole wheat tortilla.  Super easy and healthy!

4.  Sports drinks, instead, drink water or flavored fruit water.

The misconception about sports drinks is that they are actually good for our children.  What isn't so widely known is that the ingredients in sports drinks, such as electrolytes, can actually be harmful to children.  Even though these drinks are marketed toward school-aged children, they are formulated for professional athletes who perspire for long periods of time.  When your body perspires you lose electrolytes, which your body naturally regulates, without the help of sports drinks.  But if you perspire a lot, for very long periods of time, these sports drinks help to replace the electrolytes for maximum hydration.  When you give a sports drink to your child who isn't a professional athlete and isn't sweating for 10 hours a day, you run the risk of throwing off that balance of electrolytes, sodium, and water in their body.  Affects of drinking sports drinks, can be dizziness, nausea, excessive need to urinate, and in extreme cases; damage to the liver.  Instead, give your child water or homemade organic fruit water with no added sugar. 

5.  Lunch meats/hotdogs, instead, Healthy Proteins.

Any kind of overly processed meat such as deli lunch meats and hotdogs are high in nitrates as well as sodium.  The worst offender of this is bologna and hotdogs, which are also made with meat byproducts and fillers too.  If you have to use meat in a sandwich choose a leaner whole meat like ham or roast beef.  An easy option to keep protein in your child's lunch is to use left over homemade chicken or roast beef from dinner the night before.  Make sure the meat is hormone free and organic.  A vegetarian option would be almond butter, nuts, seeds, hard boiled eggs, and cheeses.

6.  High fructose corn syrup, instead, use natural complex sugars.

When it comes to the dreaded high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) you really have to read product labels, and when in doubt, make it at home so you can control what is put in your food.  Organic sugar is better to use than white sugars, natural complex sugars found in fruits are the absolute best choice, and anything made at home is better than HFCS.  Why is HFCS so bad for you?  Well there have been entire books written about how HFCS is so bad for you, but the main point is the process of making HFCS.  This process takes corn and chemically engineers it into a 55-45 fructose to glucose ratio, which makes things sweeter (and cheaper to make) than average sugar.  But this biochemistry concoction it doesn't absorb into our bodies like normal sugar.  Instead of being digested, it is rapidly absorbed into your blood stream causing minor and major problems with all systems in your body.  So, how to help cut this out of your diet?  Read labels and make more foods at home.  For your child's lunch give them the complex natural sugars found in fruits and vegetables instead of the HFCS found in processed foods and beverages.

7.  Cereal bars or Candy instead, try homemade snacks.

Cereal bars that are sold in stores are usually full of sugar and fruit 'flavoring'.  If you are sending a cereal bar with your child be sure to read the label and stay away from HFCS and artificial flavors.  Another risk of store-bought cereal bars is if your child has a peanut allergy, since a lot of the producing of these types of products happens in factories that also produce peanuts.  Most of the time it is written on the label somewhere if they were produced in the same factory with peanuts.  Instead, try making a cheaper alternative at home.  Cook oatmeal with organic pureed fruits like strawberries.  Let the oatmeal cool and then roll into bite size balls.  Your children will have fun making these with you and eating them too!  You could also try homemade organic gold fish (click here for recipe).

8.  Vinyl and Plastic Containers, instead, use metal, glass, or cloth.

This list wouldn't be complete if I didn't mention the containers themselves, because it is so important not only to the health of your family but also to our environment.  Stop using plastics… just stop.  Seriously.  Plastic starts to breakdown soon after it is made in a very slow process of release tons of chemical compounds into our food, environment, and our bodies.  (This includes plastic baggies, and tupperware.)  These chemicals we are ingesting have been shown to cause cancer, infertility in men, and neurological problems.  The new craze is BPA free plastic which is a good start but still doesn't solve all the chemical problems plastic has.  Vinyl which has become popular for children's lunch bags because of all the cool colors and designs it comes in… but vinyl also contains chemicals that release in our air and food.  VOCs or Volatile Organic Compounds is what gives those vinyl lunch pouches that 'new' fresh-from-the-factory smell and has been shown to be harmful.  Instead, try metal boxes or lunch cylinders, or even try your hand at making your own cloth tote!  These options are not only better for your child and the food they will consume but for the environment as well. Click here for Free DIY Tutorial.

9. Empty Calories, instead, try veggies, fruits, and good proteins.

Empty calories come from solid fats or added sugars in foods that have little to no nutritional value.  Examples of the empty calories can be found in cakes, cookies, sodas, energy/sports drinks, juice boxes, ice cream, chips, donuts, and hotdogs.  Calories are good for our children, who are in the middle of growing, but only if they are accompanied with nutrients.  You can switch out your child's empty calories for veggie sticks, unsweetened applesauce, a banana with almond butter, or yogurt with berries.

The goal of a healthy school lunch is to give your children real foods made at home with natural and organic ingredients.  Make as much as you can at home, so you are in total control of what your family is eating, and if you can't make it, read labels so you know exactly what you are getting.  Food is fuel and the best foods will keep your child healthy and ready to take on the rest of the school day!

Some great websites to check out:

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Back in the Saddle Again!

It feels like forever since I have written on my blog, and I have to say, I really really miss it.  For me blogging is almost like a support group where I can go and get my thoughts and feelings out on paper and then for some very strange reason post them here for all the world to read.  Strange but it is comfort to me to have a place where I can just write and be myself.

So I wanted to send this update on the Fam since I haven't written in a long time...

We have moved to OK...  it was interesting to move her, but I am really liking the area we moved to and we all have been settling in with new friends and groups.

KJ is in 2nd grade this year and yes we are still homeschooling!!  I feel so blessed to be continuing this journey with her and her education.  We actually bought curriculum this year and whoa what a difference it has made in my stress level!  I am LOVING it!

ET is now 19 months old and babbles just as much as his sister did at this age... he is going to be a talker!  He is picking up new words everyday and eats like there is no tomorrow... he must get that from Mr. D.

As for me and Mr. D.... well we are one year older and doing what we need to do to make our family function ;)  I have been forcing pinterest ideas on him since we bought our first house, and have so far painted almost every wall since moving in just a few months ago.  I have been continuing my photography business and also work as a teacher for a local dance studio.  Life is good and we are settling into our new routine of our lives here in OK.

So I hope to be writing more often than I have this past year... and get back to posting new recipes, sewing projects, homeschool resources and such!  Stay tuned!!!

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

R-E-S-P-E-C-T... what does it mean to you?

So this has been an article that I have been wanting to write for several months now, but I now finally have the time to write it!  The topic of respect seems like a common sense issue, like manners or being kind to one another... but as I look at the world around me I'm just floored by how LITTLE respect I am seeing.

A few months ago I was shopping at Target and as I was waiting in the check out lane, there was a family of 5 in front of me.  The husband and wife were having a disagreement of some kind and were getting kinda loud.  Their three kids were running amuck and being unruly, which I'm sure was adding to the parent's stress and aggression to each other.  Then the mom said something to her husband, that I was shocked came out of her mouth.

"Make your self useful and just go sit in the car... get out of my face so I don't have to deal with you."

YIKES!!!!  First I couldn't believe the disrespect that was just directed toward her husband and on top of that it was in front of all three kids!  As I left and was making my way to my car, I passed by the family again and they were still flinging insults at each other.

Now this was an isolated incident, but as I observe people more and more, the more I feel our society's level of human respect for each other has fallen.  Where are the ladies and gentlemen of yesteryears?  By being emotionally impulsive we are teaching the next generation how to disrespect other people and that this behavior is okay.

One thing I first loved about Mr. D was when we were dating he NEVER let me open the car door myself.  It was second nature for him to always come to my side first and let me in the car.  Now that we have two children we are both getting the kids in the car, but it was that first impression of being a total gentleman that was really attractive to me.  I think we as a society need to get back to the roots of 'Treat others how you want to be treated.'  We teach kids this important life lesson, but then turn around and show them how we don't respect other adults and even our family!  Actions always speak louder than words especially when it comes to kids.

So my challenge for all of you and including myself, is to constantly remind yourself of the golden rule.  Every hour of everyday before you speak or act ask yourself if you are being respectful.  This will make you a happier person and you WILL see changes in your children and family.  And just maybe we can bring back a more respectful society :)

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Cloth Diapers.... A Year Later

You all know we did something new with baby ET and invested in cloth diapers instead of disposables.  Here is the blog I wrote about a year ago.... Click Here for Article.

So how are we liking them one year later?  Would we do it all over again?  YES!!!!  I have to say I was a little nervous in the beginning writing about the pros and cons of cloth diapers for the world to see, and then using them for the first time.  But I am very happy to report that we still love our cloth diapers and you couldn't pay me to go back to using disposables.

Horrible pic... but I don't have many of just him in his diapers... and yes it is purple :)

Now that we have it down to a science, let me explain our life with cloth diapers.  First we invested in 24 of the Bum Genius 4.0 snap diapers, two packs of flannel cloth wipes, a toilet poo sprayer, and a plastic garbage bin.  All of this ran us about $450 and that has been all I have spent on his diapers this entire year!  We love the savings of not having to buy disposables and wipes and more than that I love that all of those diapers are staying out of the landfills.  My favorite part of using cloth is how much ET loves them.  He has never had diaper rash with the cloth diapers and we only use water on the flannel cloth wipes so there are NO Chemicals touching his skin.

People always ask me about the work of cloth diapers, and to be honest it isn't much more work.  We wash the diapers ourselves in our washing machine about every three days.  I just think of it as one more load of laundry, and the benefits far out way that one extra load of laundry.  

If you or someone you know is thinking about cloth diapers and you have questions please feel free to contact me via email or my facebook page!  I love talking about our experience and supporting others in choosing cloth.  It can be overwhelming and scary at first, but you will love it in the end!

Hello Again.... We are back!


I feel like I have been raised from the dead or something!  I have missed blogging this past year more than you know, but I am happy to tell you I am starting anew again and will hopefully find some time each day to get back to my blogging.

So what has been happening this past year?!?!

Well,  our little E.T. just turned 1 this past week and is an amazing little walking man.  He says mama, dada, ut oh, and a whole slew of baby gibberish.  He also signs milk, more, please, food, and water.  We are very proud of him.

We have also relocated.... and are now living in Oklahoma City.  It has been a big change for all of us, but we love being closer to our family and friends.

Mr. D jumping for joy in a nearby OKC park :)

We are still homeschooling Miss KJ in first grade and going strong.  

And we are currently looking for a house so I can unleash all of my pinterest ideas on it!  So that is what we have been doing.  I hope you missed me as much as I missed all of you and writing these blogs..... but rest assured.... I'm BACK!

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

What's for Dinner Wednesdays!! - The Best Corn on the Cob EVER!

So maybe I'm the only one in the world who had no idea how to make amazing corn on the cob, and I'm ashamed to admit it, but I seriously had no clue you could make corn this way.

My mother always boiled corn on the cobs and they were good, but then we would go to a fair or carnival and they always had this amazing corn!!!!  Well, I now know how to make it and it is easier than boiling it!

First buy corn that is still in the stalks, it is usually cheaper and saves on plastic packaging :)

Put the corn on a cookie sheet and pop in a 350 degree oven for 25-30 mins..... THAT's IT!!!!!!!!
You can also grill it, but we don't have a grill :(

When you take it out of the oven cut the bottoms off and the stalk and all the silk threads come right off with no hassles.  Seriously super easy, I was shocked.

Now for the fun fair corn......

This is the list of things to put on your corn to make it exactly like the fair:

Parmesan cheese
Paprika or chili powder (I use paprika since I don't like spicy)