30
Dec

Getting Exercise as a Family

by Tiffany in Children, Health & Healing

hiking mom and child

With the New Year coming up many have perhaps “resolved” to get healthier and exercise more. Why not make it a family affair?

Many children nowadays are suffering from health problems just like adults because they don’t eat right or get enough exercise.  As parents it is our responsibility to serve them with high quality, healthy foods at meal and snack times.  It is also our duty to influence them to get regular exercise as well to keep their body healthy instead of letting them become couch potatoes or zombies.

Regular exercises are not given much importance in this generation because kids are more involved in the modern methods of recreation such as television, computers, Play Station, and other high technology toys.  I am not big on restricting these things because I don’t want to give these things that kind of power…but I do believe in giving them some tough competition. We can make exercise a daily family activity that they won’t want to miss.
 
Kids should keep moving most of the time because this is essential for their body development and for their proper metabolism.  To keep them on the move, encourage the whole family to participate in daily exercises.  Get them up, get them out, and make them have fun. 

Normal activities can be used as exercises. Activities such as jumping, running, dancing, biking or walking, skating or swimming are all ways of getting some exercise.  You can plan for an outing that involves some of these physical activities or just play a simple game of hide and seek, Frisbee throwing, tag, or playing catch.  You can also participate as a family at some community fitness events like charity walks or fun runs. It is even easy to turn ordinary chores into fun and enjoyable games like dancing while washing the dishes. My kids like to accompany me to the mall to walk around and around. They also love to take nature walks and hikes. These things are fun and FREE. We also like to go bowling, play mini-golf, and play laser tag as a family.

To come up with ideas you may want to look for a book specific to your state filled with stuff that is fun for kids to do. I have a book called Kids Love Ohio and it is great…maybe there is one for your area. Look for books about natural wonders in your area as well.

Getting exercise as a family also helps kids to cope up with circumstances or problems that may come their way as they grow.  The healthy and active lifestyle and the soundness of mind as the result of having a regular physical exercise, and the strong support of the family, would strengthen every member of the family to face the pressures and challenges of life.

Doing exercises with the family not only generates health and wellness of the physical body; it will also deepen the family ties, strengthen the family values and enjoy the pleasure of the company and the building of some extra special memories.  If the whole family is active then they will all share in the health benefits of regular exercises and the joy of being together. It is the ultimate 2 for 2 deal.

So how will you resolve to “get active” as a family this year?

Recommended reading: Hiking & Backpacking With Kids & Camping With Kids

Tuesday, December 30th, 2008

2 Comments on Getting Exercise as a Family

29
Dec

Homemade Raw Almond Milk

This morning I made some raw almond milk. It is still a living food, its vegan, and is very good for you. My two boys love to drink it straight up…my daughter would rather have raw cows milk I think. But none of them mind when I use it in cereals or in homemade raw ice cream. We also use it to make chocolate milk and banana milk which they all love. Check out my Raw Kids Recipes book for recipes. :)

It is super easy to make. Other than the 12 hours I soak the almonds first it only takes about 5-10 minutes to actually make. This morning I used my Vita-Mix 5200 of course and it gets it so smooth you won’t find a single nut chunk.

I strained the milk through a cheese cloth to get it smooth enough for drinking straight up… otherwise it kind of resembles a smoothie and I leave the brown seed casing on so that gets strained as well. After I squeeze all the milk out of the cheese cloth I spread the almond pulp on a dehydrator sheet and I use my Excalibur dehydrator to dry it out. After it is dry I will ground it into almond flour for pie crusts or raw cookies.

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almond milk in the frig

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Monday, December 29th, 2008

31 Comments on Homemade Raw Almond Milk

29
Dec

I Dream of An Earthship

by Tiffany in A Green Home

earthship

Hubby and I have been hoping, and wishing, and dreaming lately of the day when we might be able to get things in order and start building an Earthship. Okay at first when I told him about them he laughed at me. Then I brought home some books about earthships and read them while he was laying in bed next to me, on his laptop. In my excitement I think I almost knocked his computer off his lap a couple times to shove the book in front of him. But he started to get enthusiastic too, especially when he heard that I would like for him and I to do much of the building/work ourselves. Yes, this is more like a 5-15 year plan kind of dream but now that he is FINALLY on board I am super excited. All that would be missing is the eco village… that is still a no go. ;)

So what is an Earthship? According to Wikipedia’s definition, an earthship is a type of passive solar home made of natural and recycled materials. They are primarily constructed to work autonomously and are generally made of earth-filled tires, utilising thermal mass construction to naturally regulate indoor temperature. They also usually have their own special natural ventilation system. Earthships are a type of off-grid home, which minimizes their reliance on public utilities and fossil fuels.

They are basically homes made of tires, cans, bottles, recycled materials, and garbage. Usually they are halfway underground and they run completely on their own. I am fascinated with how water is used in these homes. The house is designed to send mass amounts of rain water into a cistern. From there it feeds sinks. After it goes through the sinks (aka washing dishes) then it goes into an indoor planter to water your indoor food garden. Unabsorbed water goes down into  a system of pipes that feeds the toilet and then after the toilet is flushed it FINALLY goes into a septic tank. Amazing!

Energy is harnessed with solar or wind or both and the house itself is designed to handle heating and cooling utilising thermal mass. One of my fave features in many earthships is that they construct inner walls using colored glass bottles inside the clay. Then the sun shines into the house, through the bottles, and you have shards of colored light in the interior rooms… garbage can be gorgeous. I have only seen pictures of them but hopefully this spring I will finally make the 2 hour trip to see the only earthship in Ohio.

Until then I will just keep dreaming…earthship book

Recommended Reading: Earthship: How to Build Your Own, Vol. 1

Top Photo from Flickr.

Monday, December 29th, 2008

13 Comments on I Dream of An Earthship

28
Dec

Vita-Mix 5200 – BPA Free Blender

by Tiffany in A Green Home

Vita-Mix 5200 making a green smoothieIf there is one kitchen gadget that is indispensable in this house it is hands down a high speed blender. Over the years I used many different blenders and they could pretty much be summed up in one word…crap. Anytime you tried to blend something with a little substance they would get jammed up, they would blend unevenly leaving chunks of ice in a smoothie for instance, and generally I just never met a blender I liked. That all changed about 4 years ago when I went into a Costco in Arizona and saw a demonstration table for Vita-Mix blenders. I stood mesmerized for about 2 hours (not kidding) sampling smoothies, soups, ice cream, lemonade, salsa, and much more.., all made right in front of me in minutes with this miracle machine. On that day I fell in love…with a blender, LOL. It did not go unnoticed by my mom (who was with me) and I walked out of Costco that day with my Vita-Mix, courtesy of her.

Now this could be one of those tales where I bought the pricey blender and rarely if ever used it. It would make sense since I had a blender already and did never use IT. But no, over the past 2.5 years I have used my Vita-Mix on average 2-3 times a day…EVERY day. I have made ice cream, sorbets, soups, salsa, pie crust, cookie dough, pie filling, puddings, salad dressings, pizza crust, Popsicle filling, hundreds of smoothies, and much more. My mom loves the fact that something she bought for me has been so well received and adored.

So what makes the Vita-Mix such a kick butt blender? The number one thing is that it makes healthy eating so much easier. Want a green smoothie? No problem. Not in the mood for store bought salsa…make your own with fresh ingredients in just 60 seconds. While your at it grind up some flax seeds, tomatoes, celery, a little lime, and cilantro and then spread the resulting pulp mixture onto a dehydrator tray or oven tray for homemade Mexican style crackers. Want some fresh juice? Throw the entire fruit or veggie in there skin, seeds, and all watch it get pulverized into juice. Want sorbet? Throw some frozen raspberries and some spinach in the blender and in 2-3 minutes you have a healthy, yummy sorbet. See? Healthy eating made easy.

I use it at least 2 times a week to blend soups and make them creamier, eliminating the need to add flour or cornstarch. I make green smoothies every morning and I blend fruit (and sometimes veggies) to make homemade Popsicles all summer long. I use  it ALL the time if you haven’t guessed. And yes I own one of those nifty hand mixers and a food processor… they sit untouched most of the time… go figure.

Secondly, the Vita-Mix 5200 is built to outperform and outlast any other kitchen appliance on the market. This bad boy has some serious power with a powerful 2 peak HP motor that works with precision-crafted stainless steel blades. I have never put anything in this blender that it could not make mince meat of in mere seconds. In our house it replaces a food processor and a juicer too….so those are expensive gadgets you won’t need to buy anymore.

Up until recently I only had experience with the Vita-Mix 5000. So how does my newer Vita-Mix 5200 model compare with the 5000? There are some impressive improvements and the number one being IMO that the blending container is now made of Eastman Triton copolyester making it a BPA free blender!! No need to worry about BPA leaching into the smoothies or hot soups anymore.

fruit and spinach for green smoothie

The container has a sleek new design with a new soft grip handle…love that feature. It makes it much easier to hold on to when it is heavy with delicious smoothie. The lid now has two clamps that secure it to the container so no more pushing hard to get the lid to fit tightly. The plug is also easier to remove when needed so that you use the tamper. Except I have not needed to use the tamper at all because it also has a new two peak HP motor. I thought my 5000 was powerful but the 5200 packs some serious power. My green smoothies blend in like 15 seconds now.

Another change is that the switches and dial are now soft grip. That change is okay I guess but I did not find it to be very important. And as before the blender comes with a DVD and a very nice cookbook with recipes. You can also get a dry container so you can ground your own flour.

Oh and did I mention that Vita-Mix offers a FULL 7 year warranty?! That is an incredible benefit but one you likely won’t even need as I know one gal that has had her Vita-Mix for 11 years now and it is still going strong.

My first test drive of the Vita-Mix 5200 was of course going to be a green smoothie. I put in three cups of baby spinach, some Vita Mineral Green, a ripe banana, a small handful of frozen cherries, 4-5 frozen strawberries, and about a cup of water.

It took about 15-20 seconds to make and the kids LOVED it…they always do. It is a great way to get kids to drink their greens and we make all sorts of variations. Perhaps we will make a Kale smoothie later!

If and when you want to purchase a Vita-Mix you can go to Vita-Mix.com and use code: 06-002324 for FREE standard shipping (if it isn’t already tabulated). Is it worth the $450 price tag? Absolutely, hands down, for sure, you betcha! ;)

You can also buy an older model on Amazon. Enjoy!

green smoothie moustache

27
Dec

Going Batty is a GOOD Thing.

by Tiffany in Enjoying Nature, Environment

batOver the weekend we had some excitement with a native critter. For the third time since we moved into this house we got a bat trapped in the house. I have NO idea how they get in but they do. They live somewhere nearby…my attic crawl space maybe, LOL, because most warm evenings we see them swarm the pond nearby and then go hunting over the crop fields that are behind our street. They are lovely to watch but I don’t like them swarming around my head when I have laundry to do so out they must go when they get in the house. Hubs has been able to catch and release them all so far and that is very important to us because bats are very important to the environment.

If you have bats nearby then this is a sign that the area is in good environmental health without too much pollution. Bats are very sensitive to pollution and pesticides. When the bats go you have a big warning sign at hand.

Bats also love to eat mosquitoes and with all the concern about mosquito born illness like the West Nile Virus this is more important than ever. Spraying areas to kill mosquitoes will also likely drive away or kill their natural predators…bats. Not a smart thing to do. I wonder why cities aren’t looking into bat release programs and cultivating bat houses  instead of spraying noxious gas on our neighborhoods. Bats can eat up to 1000 of those blood sucking buggers an hour. They may not do it because of all the fear about rabies but only a teeny 0.5% of bats ever get rabies. In MOST cases (sans an epidemic) bats are considered completely harmless. You are more likely to get rabies from a raccoon than from a bat. Bats are also very mild animals…they don’t like to be around people anyway.

Bats also eat tons of other bugs and I know my local farmers should be grateful because they canvas those crop fields all spring and summer looking for bugs. If you DO get one in the house or where it is in close proximity to people you will want to remove them and keep kids away (just in case). A bat box would be a great relocation place.

So what do you think? Why is it so hard to break away from the evil blooding suck, rabid bat stereotype? :)

Saturday, December 27th, 2008

5 Comments on Going Batty is a GOOD Thing.