Thursday, July 22, 2010

Sunshine Award: Pay it Forward

I was so touched to receive a second Sunshine Award today from Colleen, author of a lovely blog about homeschooling called Sunrise Learning Lab. My first Sunshine Award came several months ago from Marla at Honest Green who writes a charming account of her day-to-day efforts to become more eco-friendly. I'm so flattered that these excellent bloggers and quality women find my words worth reading. ♡

It is my pleasure to pay this award forward to a few bloggers that bring sunshine into my life for one reason or another. Some of these people I know in real life, others I know only in the blogosphere. All the blogs have one thing in common - they are platforms for discussing all those meaningful insights that don't naturally come out in daily chit-chat. The barriers that normally divide us - time constraints, physical distance, emotional distance - don't exist in the blog world, and that's why I like spending a little time there each day.
  • Live Corn Free. This is my favorite of all the blogs written by uber-blogger extraordinaire, Sharon Rosen. Make note of that name, because I'm sure you will hear it again. This woman is going places. In addition to her very professional and successful blogs, Dealafina and Giveaway Gal, she has created this slightly more personal platform for creating awareness about the shocking prevalance of corn in modern daily life. I think she's a pretty neat person and I can't wait to see what kind of mark she makes in the world. By the way, be sure to sign her FDA petition while you're on her site.
  • Monologue. A very personal, slice-of-life blog written by my cousin, Elaina provides a glimpse into the heart of a young mother who is working hard to be healthier and happier. Bearing witness to her struggles, setbacks, and successes drives me to my feet to cheer her on and inspires me to do better in my own life. I feel fortunate that she is willing to share her well-written musings with all of us.
  • Hartley's Life with Three Boys. This blog was a source of light to me when I was in the dark about an important issue impacting my children - sensory processing. It gave me the practical information I needed along with some very helpful doses of humor and encouragement. Hartley's candid way of talking about the ups and downs of raising three boys often has me in stitches, and her sense of humor has healing power. Sometimes I see a reflection of my own life in her posts and other times I'm just plain relieved that my boys haven't tried the stunt I happen to be reading about that day (such as flooding the kitchen with the garden hose).  Maybe - just maybe - Hartley might be willing to write a guest post for my blog to explain why anyone who deals with children would benefit from learning more about sensory processing. What do you say, Hartley?
  • The Thrifty Mama. It has been amazing to watch the transformation of this blog over the past year from a "great little coupon site" into a flourishing professional business. To me, Crystal is like the Oprah of the blog world (and anyone who knows me knows how much I love Oprah). This was the first blog I started following when I wanted to take my frugality to the next level, and I will always have a special place in my heart for it.  I'm so grateful for all that it's taught me, and I especially appreciate Crystal's ever-expanding emphasis on environmental and health issues, subjects which are often overlooked on frugal websites. 
  • What Would Juanny Do? Juanny has the following tag phrase on his blog: "Be Optimistically Pessimistic – Something Bad Has to Happen". So, that tells you a lot right off the bat. Juanny - also known as just plain John - was a high-school classmate of mine, but I've only recently come to appreciate his special brand of cynicism that is at times thought provoking and insightful, and at others just plain funny.  Lest any of us bloggers take ourselves too seriously, I challenge Mr. Juanny Cinco to put things in perspective. Or at least help us laugh at ourselves. Plus, I think it would be oh-so-fun to see this girly, bloggy button on his modern-masculine page. Hmm - will he do it?  Will he pass the award on to others? I guess we'll soon find out!
    • Animalcule. My husband John started a blog a few months back about one of his great passions - science. I know I'm a bit biased, but I really think I'm right about this one -  John is an exceptional person. He knows a lot of things about a lot of things and has a masterful way of making connections between all these things. Unfortunately, he is so busy providing for our family that he hasn't had the time he deserves to nourish his passions. It is my intention to help John carve out more time for himself so that he can explore his thoughts and ideas - by blog or otherwise - and release that visionary that lives within. Don't worry John, I definitely don't expect you to put this girly, bloggy button your website.
      Sunshine Award: Pay it ForwardSocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

      Tuesday, July 20, 2010

      Creating the Life You Want:
      Intention. Visualization. Reflection.

      How do you create the life you want? Seriously, I'm asking....

      That is the big question for many of us. In particular, how do we make those big lifestyle changes that seem impossible? I've been pondering this question a lot lately. I'm no Deepak Chopra, but here are my humble thoughts on the subject.

      I'm interested in knowing your thoughts.... please share.

      Set a clear and conscious intention for the things that you want in your life, then write it down and communicate it to someone else. Think about all the times we say, "I didn't mean to do that". Instead of floating through life unconsciously, we should mean what we do, and do what we mean to do. The funny thing is that setting an intention and achieving it is not really all that hard.  The hard part is figuring out what it is that will really make us happy. The expression, "be careful what you wish for" comes to mind.

      Once you have set your intention, spend time creating a picture in your mind of what that reality would look like. Use all your senses to imagine that intention coming to fruition. Write about it, cut out pictures and stick them on your refrigerator, draw a picture.... just spend time thinking about it. It is in these moments of positive contemplation that ideas spring forth, paths emerge, plans fall in to place, and the inner strength and motivation that may have once seemed lacking suddenly comes to life.

      As you start to achieve your goals, the visualizations will take on new shapes, become more detailed, and perhaps take unexpected detours. The process of fully realizing the intention can be stymied when you don't take the time to properly reflect on the journey. It's important to process (ideally through writing) all that you have done to achieve your goals, what has worked, what has not worked, and how you want to proceed. Acknowledge the progress that has been made. Allow yourself to appreciate it and use that gratitude to motivate yourself as you carry on.
      Creating the Life You Want:
      Intention. Visualization. Reflection.
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      CSN Stores.... Shop Easy? Let's Find Out.

      I was recently introduced to a massive online shopping portal called CSN. Through this one site you can buy all kinds of products - anything from light fixtures, to kid's stuff, to furniture and housewares.

      The folks at CSN asked me to review my shopping experience with them. In exchange they are giving me $40 to spend at their store.
      Sure, I'll give it a try. 

      So far, I'm impressed with CSN's huge selection and eclectic styles. At first glance, the prices look reasonable, and they claim there is FREE shipping on "just about everything". There are a number of organic and eco-friendly products. They also have a clearance section (which doesn't seem to offer many significant discounts), a rewards program, and price matching. There were a number of somewhat unusual items that caught my eye, including cool bean bags for kids, educational and developmental toys, and a compost bin for the kitchen counter.

      CSN could easily be another go-to place when I'm shopping online. Their tag line is "shop easy".  I'll find out if that's really true and report back to you.
      CSN Stores.... Shop Easy? Let's Find Out.SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

      Thursday, July 15, 2010

      Healthy Green & Frugal is Now on Twitter

      Are you a Twitterer?
      Well, you can now follow Healthy Green & Frugal on Twitter

      I've also added some new little buttons at the top right corner of the page to make it even easier to  keep up with Healthy Green & Frugal using all your favorite social media! Look for the buttons just above my family's picture under the heading "Ways to Subscribe to Healthy Green & Frugal". The picture shown above is just a picture. ☺

      These are all the ways to subscribe to Healthy Green & Frugal:
      • Facebook. Select the "Like" button on the Healthy Green & Frugal fan page to receive posts on your Facebook wall. 
      • Twitter. Select the "Follow" button to start receive tweets from Healthy Green & Frugal.
      • Feed.  Subscribe to Healthy Green & Frugal's feed via your favorite web portal or news reader.
      • Blogger. Follow Healthy Green & Frugal on Blogger.
      • Email. Sign up here to receive posts directly to your email inbox. Emails go out once a day.
        Thanks for reading. Hope to hear from you soon!
        Healthy Green & Frugal is Now on TwitterSocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

        Wednesday, July 14, 2010

        Tampa Bay Veg Fest on October 2

         The Tampa Bay Veg Fest will be held on Saturday October 2 from 10AM to 6PM in Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park in downtown Tampa. It's a FREE event geared towards vegetarians, vegans, and healthy eaters. There will be food, entertainment, information, and activities for kids.

        A beautiful downtown park in October, vegetarian/vegan food and healthy-minded people .... sounds like fun to me!

        Grass Root is slated to be there too - even better!
        Tampa Bay Veg Fest on October 2SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

        Tuesday, July 13, 2010

        Guest Post on Hartley's Life with 3 Boys:
        Good Nutrition for Sensationally Picky Eaters

        Have you ever heard the term "sensory processing" or "sensory integration"?  I certainly hadn't until about 6 months ago when I opened a door into an unfamiliar world full of new ways of understanding my children and their development.

        So, what exactly is sensory processing? In a nutshell, it's the function of the brain that interprets the input that is being received through the senses. It seems likely to me that most everyone struggles with sensory processing issues to some extent, especially young children who are still developing. However, when someone's struggles are severe enough to impact normal daily life, that person may have Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD).

        Although neither of my children have been diagnosed with SPD, it has become clear to me that many of the behaviors they exhibit are related to sensory processing. Learning about sensory processing issues and how to deal with them has been nothing short of transformative. I think any person who deals with children would benefit from learning more about sensory processing. I certainly wish I had known about this a lot sooner!

        The resource that has helped me the most with this issue is a blog written by Hartley Steiner called Hartley's Life with 3 Boys.  I got the practical, down-to-earth information I was seeking about sensory processing, along with some very helpful doses of encouragement and humor. Click HERE to view a news interview, in which Hartley sums up this very complex issue quite nicely.

        Hartley has become a bit of a "sensory guru" to me over the past few months, so I was quite flattered when she asked me to write a guest post for her blog.  I wrote about a problem that most mothers face.... picky eaters. I'd love to hear about the ways you cope with your picky children.

        Thanks again Hartley for inviting me to post on your site! 

        Healthy Green & Frugal's Guest Post 
        on Hartley's Life with 3 Boys:

        Good Nutrition for
        Sensationally Picky Eaters

        Guest Post on Hartley's Life with 3 Boys:
        Good Nutrition for Sensationally Picky Eaters
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        Monday, July 12, 2010

        The Slow Cook Has Got Me Thinking

        If you read my blog post from a few days ago called How to Create Healthy Recipes You'll Love, you know that I've gleaned a fair amount of inspiration in the kitchen over the past few years from an article written by Ed Bruske, a personal chef and Washington Post food columnist. So I was tickled to discover this same writer had mentioned my post on his blog a few days later in an article called The Spreadsheet Diet. He was even kind enough to include some of his recipes I wasn't able to find on the internet.

        While his article answered some questions, it also presented some new ones for me....

        First of all, what is this "slow food" movement I've been hearing about? I want to learn more.

        Second, Bruske says in his article: "I don’t eat grains or legumes or other starchy carbs any more if I can help it. But I recognize that many people consider these foods extremely healthful, and I  agree: if you are going to eat carbohydrates, focus on whole grains and legumes with lots of fiber, Avoid sugar, refined grains and other starchy foods (french fries!) at all costs"

        Really? No grains or legumes? Well, that certainly piqued my attention. I'd like to know more about that.

        It looks like I still have something to learn from Ed Bruske. I look forward to reading more on his blog. In the meantime, anyone care to share what they know about these topics?

        On a separate note, a very thoughtful reader was able to find the links from Bruske's original Washington Post article. So, here they are:

        Recipes That Top the Charts 
        Spreadsheet Categories
        How it Works (about 3/4 of the way down)
        The Spreadsheet Diet

        I love this kind of exchange of information. Thanks for taking the time to share your comments and ideas. I always appreciate it.
        The Slow Cook Has Got Me ThinkingSocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

        Saturday, July 10, 2010

        Use Books to Wet Your Child's Appetite for Healthy Food

        Good food and good books are two important components of childhood. Isn’t it great when they work together as a team? Books help me combat one the biggest roadblocks I face with my children - reluctance to try new foods. Sometimes certain stories will generate interest in a new food. Other times, books simply make mealtime more fun. 

        One of our favorite games is to read a book and take a bite when we hear a certain word. For example, we'll read Click Clack Moo: Cows That Type and take a bite each time the word “cow” is uttered (or uddered as the case may be). We work on literacy skills and my boys eat a good meal - win win!

        The possibilities are endless, but here are some of my favorite ways to use books to encourage good nutrition:
        • Green Eggs and Ham. I’m so grateful for all the spinach omelets my boys have eaten because of this book. I put fresh spinach (aka “magic green”) in the mini-food processor, mix it with cheese and eggs, and voila.... green eggs! 
        • The Lorax. I convinced my sons that mangoes were truffula fruits. That got them to try something new. Now they realize how delicious mangoes really are! 
        • Ten Apples Up on Top. This book inspired a yummy and healthy dish of whole grain biscuits with baked apples “up on top”. The baked apples are good even without the biscuits. To make them, simply slice granny smith apples, coat in olive oil and cinnamon, and bake in the oven until nice and mushy. For some extra fun, you can count the apples as you make them and maybe even balance them on your head!
        • Berenstain Bear’s: Mama’s Day Surprise. This book is centered around a special breakfast of honeyed french toast with fresh blueberries. My boys salivated over the pictures, so we made it one day and they happily cleaned their plates. 
        • Berenstain Bear's: Too Much Junk Food. One of my personal favorites with a great message about healthy eating. My kids are more likely to eat carrot sticks after we've read this.
        • The Little Red Hen. My oldest is fascinated with the idea that you can start with a grain of wheat, plant it, and eventually make bread out of it. I’m working on ways to capitalize on his new interest. I'm not sure I'm capable of growing wheat!
        • Richard Scarry’s books are packed full of yummy looking food.
        Use Books to Wet Your Child's Appetite for Healthy FoodSocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

        Thursday, July 8, 2010

        How to Create Healthy Recipes You'll Love


        Have you resolved to eat better, but you're having a hard time finding healthy recipes you actually like? Perhaps you are veteran healthy eater who is in a bit of a rut. Here is a simple method that may be the jump start you're seeking. It certainly helped me expand my horizons and create delicious meals tailor-made to suit my palette.

        I learned about the method a few years ago from a good friend. She gave me a copy of an article from The Washington Post called The Spreadsheet Diet written by Ed Bruske, personal chef and food columnist. The article struck a chord with me. I keep it in my recipe book and read it every so often for inspiration.

        The article itself is worth reading, but unfortunately the original links to all the recipes and how-to details are no longer there. However, Bruske was kind enough to write a post on his blog in response to an email I sent him. Wasn't that nice? Click HERE to read the post, which includes several full-length recipes. Thanks Ed!

        In any case, I'll do my best to explain the method as I have used it. Basically, Bruske's spreadsheet contained the column categories shown below in all caps. The rows contain your favorites in each of those categories (the ingredients listed here are just a few of the many possibilities). To create a recipe, you pick one or two favorites from each column. The result is a well-balanced, healthy meal using foods you love!
        • WHOLE GRAINS: barley, bulgur, brown rice, couscous, quinoa, spelt, wheat berries, wild rice
        • ALLIUMS: onions, shallots, scallions, chives
        • NUTS: walnuts, pecans, almonds, hazelnuts, pine nuts, cashews
        • HERBS: parsley, cilantro, mint, dill, basil, hyssop, lemon balm
        • TOMATOES: diced, cherry, grape, sun-dried, roasted
        • LEGUMES: peas, chickpeas, lentils, fava beans
        • DRIED FRUITS: raisins, apricots, cherries, cranberries, blueberries, currants, pomegranetes
        • PRESERVED GOODS: olives, marinated artichokes, roasted red peppers
        • VINEGARS: red wine, white wine, sherry, apple cider vinegar, rice wine, lemon juice
        • VEGETABLES: red peppers, carrots, cauliflower, celery, fennel, broccoli
        • GREENS: arugula, spinach, radicchio, endive
        The key is to pick all the things you love the most.  I know it sounds kind of obvious to say that, but it's not something I thought to try until I read the article. First I followed some of the recipes written by Bruske, then I felt confident enough to experiement. Now I always keep my favorite ingredients on hand, and when things get too busy for proper meal planning, I know I have something healthy I can whip together.

        My personal favorites are:
        • mushrooms (either sauteed or made into a mushroom gravy)
        • roasted red peppers
        • roasted tomatoes
        • olives (I'm in love with the Lindsay Naturals at the moment - click HERE for coupons)
        • shallots
        • roasted garlic
        • toasted pecans
        • scallions (the organic ones are exceptionally good)
        • dried cranberries (Whole Foods carries ones that are nice and plump and contain no high-fructose corn syrup)
        • Lundberg Wild Rice is expensive, but excellent, and mixing it with quinoa adds a nice amount of protein
        Click HERE to view some of the full-length recipes on Bruske's blog. Also, here are some his basic ideas to get you started. The first one is my very favorite (shown in the picture).
        • Wild Rice and Quinoa Pilaf With Toasted Pecans and Dried Cranberries: 2 from grains, 1 from nuts (pecans), 1 from dried fruits (cranberries), 1 from alliums (scallions), 1 from herbs (parsley), 1 vinegar (cider), 1 olive oil. 
        • Hulled Barley With Carrots, Raisins and Walnuts: 1 from grains, 2 vegetables (carrots, celery), 2 dried fruits (dark and golden raisins), 2 alliums (shallots, scallions), 2 herbs (parsley, hyssop), 1 from nuts (walnuts), 1 vinegar (white wine vinegar), 1 olive oil.
        • Brown Rice Pilaf With Roasted Cauliflower, Dried Fruits and Cashews: 1 from grains, 1 vegetable (cauliflower), 2 dried fruits (raisins, apricots), 2 herbs (cilantro, mint), 1 from nuts (cashews), 1 vinegar (lemon juice is considered part of this category), 1 olive oil.
        • Wheat Berry and Chickpea Salad With Olives and Feta Cheese: 1 from grains, 1 from legumes (chickpeas), 1 feta cheese (a category in itself), 3 preserved goods (marinated olives, artichokes, roasted red peppers), 1 from tomatoes, 2 greens (radicchio, arugula), 1 vinegar (lemon juice), 1 olive oil.
        • Bulgur and Lentil Pilaf With Fava Beans: 1 from grains, 2 from legumes (lentils and fava beans), 1 from tomatoes, 1 from alliums (red onion), 1 from vegetables (fennel), 3 from herbs (parsley, mint and dill), 1 vinegar (rice wine), 1 olive oil.
        Here of some additional tips that might help. Have fun getting creative in the kitchen! I'd love to hear about the recipes you come up with.
        • Use vegetable broth to cook grains. This adds a lot of flavor to the finished product. Swanson has an organic vegetable broth that is very reasonably priced. I can often find sales and coupons.
        • Use a nice quality olive oil. I like to keep two types of olive oil on hand. One bottle of cheaper light olive oil for cooking and one bottle of more exspensive extra virgin olive oil to use on non-cooked dishes where the flavor of the oil can really shine. My favorite brand is Filipppo Berio Extra Virgin... delicioso! Click HERE for a coupon.
        • Don't be afraid to try new things. Sometimes unfamiliar foods can be intimidating, especially when they come from the produce isle or the bulk bins and have no instructions. The good news is that you can find instructions for anything on the internet. Just look it up. You may have found your new favorite food! 
        • Ready rice is actually pretty good in a pinch.  Yes, yes... whole grains are very important. But sometimes we just can't be bothered to wait 30 to 50 min for the rice to cook. I've found that Uncle Ben's Ready Rice (wild rice or brown rice) is actually pretty good. Sales and coupons abound (click HERE for a coupon). Minute Rice also has a good Ready to Serve rice in single serve containers (click HERE for a coupon).
        • Roasting vegetables properly makes all the difference in the world. The first time I achieved that marvelous caramelized glaze on my roasted vegetables, I never settled for anything less. Click HERE for a helpful guide to achieving flavorful roasted vegetables. 
        • Toasted nuts take the dish from good to great. Unfortunately, toasting takes away some of the nutrients found in raw nuts, but it certainly makes for an outstanding flavor. If that makes eating healthy more enjoyable, I'd say it's worth it!
        By the way, one of Ed Bruske's blogs is called Better D.C. School Food. He's like the American Jamie Oliver! Nice work Ed! He also has one called The Slow Cook that contains lots of helpful information about food, nutrition, gardening, and environmental issues.

        Read the follow-up post: The Slow Cook Has Got Me Thinking

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        How to Create Healthy Recipes You'll LoveSocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

        Friday, July 2, 2010

        Coupons for Honest Drinks

        Click HERE for coupons on various Honest teas & juice drinks. The Honest Kids drink pouches are a huge improvement over some of the more popular brands. They are organic, contain no high-fructose corn syrup and the sugar is relatively low.

        Another reason I like these drink pouches is that you can freeze them to keep the rest of your packed food cold. Then when they thaw, you can drink them!

        If you buy a lot of Honest Kids drink pouches, consider clicking HERE to sign up for their rewards program. I haven't used it yet, but it looks like there are a lot of practical rewards, such as coupons for free Happy Baby products and gift certificates to Publix and Target.

        Thanks to Thrifty Mama!
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