Holiday Guide for Healthy Living and Giving

by Tiffany in Green Holidays, Health & Healing

When I walk through the holiday gift isles of conventional stores I often have to snicker about all the items spotlighted on shelves that I would personally find absolutely useless if I found them under my tree. At best they are just useless to me, at worst they are toxic to my health and that of the planet. Gift baskets full of smelly mainstream soaps and lotions with body glitter come to mind, heavily wrapped in plastic of course. Also those giant makeup and perfume gifts sets that are so prevalent. These are the type of products that will often get buried in a box inside the linen closet. Or maybe they get left under the bathroom sink never to be touched again until a few years down the road when we wonder what the shelf life is on blue eye shadow…

I say bypass all that crap and get your loved ones and friends something outside of the mainstream…something that will help them to be their healthiest and most vibrant selves. We can give gifts that nourish our bodies and spirits and those are the gifts that are truly meaningful. They tell our loves ones in no uncertain terms that we want them to be around for a very long time.

The gifts I have compiled below will be most welcome in the home’s of most healthy living enthusiasts. They are always on the lookout for new ways to get and stay healthy. I would adore any one of these personally. Yet these gifts will also work for those that haven’t jumped on the health and fitness bandwagon yet. They might just find the encouragement they need!

Healthy Living and Giving Guide

Squatty Potty – Okay maybe this wasn’t the best one to start off with. Your loved one might think you are nuts if they aren’t already into the sometimes quirky ways of healthy living enthusiasts. But if they are into heath they will know just important it is to have healthy bowels and this little potty gadget is designed to help them have healthy eliminations.

Never says love like giving someone a product that will help them poo better right? If this one isn’t brave enough for you though you might try a Colema Board instead.

Happy Light – Give the gift of happiness by gifting a mood light. These lights have been shown to be very effective in treating seasonal depression due to lack of sunlight during the winter months. I have one myself that I put on my work desk. I swear by it.


Magnesium Oil or Bath Flakes – Most of us are magnesium deficient and it causes a whole host of problems…fatigue, insomnia, menstrual cramps, migraines, and tooth decay just to name a few. Taking supplements helps but our bodies have a hard time absorbing this all important mineral orally so topical application should be done as well. Just spray some oil on before showering or take a bath with the flakes. The results are amazing.

I recommend the Ancient Minerals brand. It’s all I use.

Earthing Starter Kit – Remember my post about Earthing and how our physical disconnect from the soil is actually hurting us and making us sick?? Well this great kit gives you a mat that you can put under your computer desk or wherever you frequently sit and a sheet for your bed. They “ground” you to the earth and heal your bioelectrical circuitry.

Healthy Kitchen Gadgets – Giving gifts that will the make healthier eating and cooking more easy and accessible just make good sense. I have a long list of recommendations for Real Foods Kitchen items that I think all healthy kitchens need. It has everything from my beloved Vita-Mix, to cast iron, to Ball jars. On my list for this year? The Cuppow lid that fits on Ball jars and turns them into sippy cups for the whole family.

Many of these items can be found second hand too. I often get vintage pyrex from family during the holidays because they know I love it and prefer it to plastic or teflon coated baking dishes. See below some of my early Christmas presents to myself…Fire King bakeware and a foodie oil painting, bought at auction.

Hand Crafted Kitchen Gifts – Not all items need to be mass produced though. There are some items you can make yourself or buy from craft sellers. My picks? A hand sewn cast iron skillet handle cover or a tea and coffee cozy.

Water Alkilizer – Cancer thrives in an acidic body and acid does a number on our cells in general. This is why it is important that we eat a variety of alkaline foods to counteract the acids ones we may eat (meat, grains, dairy). It is also important to make sure our water is on the alkaline side and these nifty filters do just that.

Water Purifier – Taking a step back it is also important to make sure our drinking and cooking water is healthy and free of contaminants that make us sick like lead and chlorine. I have and love the Zuvo UV/Ozone Water Purator Water Filtration System.


Salt Lamp – These lamps are made of natural salt crystal from the Himalayan mountains and they work much like the air ionizer/purifiers that I have in my home. They purify the air by emitting negative ions into the air and the light is therapeutic to reduce stress and increase energy. They are gorgeous too!

Fitness Equipment – Even the most avid gym goers occasionally like to get their sweat on at home. Some good gifts include cast iron kettlebells or maybe an eco yoga mat for yoga or doing planks.

Healthy Cookbooks – You may need to know a little about the diet of the giftee but a healthy cookbook is always a good bet. For vegans and vegetarians I recommend Crazy Sexy Kitchen. For meat lovers I recommend Practical Paleo and Paleo Slow Cooking. For Asian food lovers I recommend A Spoonful of Ginger.

Gift Certificates for Healthier Living – Lots of options here! Try a GC for grassfed meat stores, coconut oil products, supplements suppliers, gym memberships, Whole Foods, or even a CSA Membership.

I hope this helps you find the perfect gift. Skip the glitter body lotion and go for something that promotes health and wellness instead. Or if you are commonly the recipient of such gifts, forward this post to your family and friends. Enjoy!


Going Greener and Healthier With The Honest Company

by Tiffany in Birth & Baby

By now you have probably heard about The Honest Company. It has certainly gotten a good deal of mainstream press because of it ownership by actress Jessica Alba. Though if you stay up to date on the latest in safe and sustainable products for the home then this gem of a company probably would have passed by your radar anyway. With so many unsavory products on the market it is a great satisfaction to us parents when a more ethical company with safe products not only arrives, but also thrives.

The company’s great products and its fun and upbeat packaging and presentation can hopefully sway more moms to healthier home products and products for their babies. Moms really are stepping up to the task of making our home cleaning products and care products healthier and safer and I give mad props to Jessica Alba for using her superstar for such an important task.

Using eco friendly products within the home is so important to me and my family because we feel it is not fair to make other people or the planet pay for our lifestyle choices. My cleaning products should not pollute the air or water we all drink. My diaper product of choice should not be entombed in a landfill 500 years from now for someone else to have to deal with. My choices have consequences so I need to make better choices…period.

What is better for our planet is often times what is better for human health too. I need to be concerned about the cleaning products I am rinsing down the drain but I also need to be concerned about the diaper rash cream or baby wipes I am slathering on my babies. My choice in these matters effects their health!  Yet so many moms choose products without thinking of any of the consequences to health and planet. Companies like  The Honest Company are rising to the task and trying to change that. Honest is a Certified B Corporation which is like earning a LEED or Fair Trade certification, but for a business. It shows that they are in this to make a social difference and change the world.

They also donate to charity when you support them. With every purchase you make, The Honest Company donates time, money, and product to their current charitable partner Baby2Baby.org. This organization supplies families in need with essential baby gear and clothing for children up to age 12.

The company sent me a package of their diapers to review. As you know my kids are not wearing diapers anymore but these will make an adorable donation to a women’s shelter local to me. I know they will make some mom smile (because they are freakin adorable!) and I will smile knowing a few babies out there are wearing healthier diapers for a short time.

I also look forward to trying some of their other products that are more relevant to me like their household cleaners.

The Honest Company was started by a mom and a dad (Christopher Gavigan) who, like many modern parents, were increasingly worried about products made with questionable chemical ingredients. But the alternatives they found were often expensive, inaccessible, bland, or ineffective. In response to this clear need for something better, they created The Honest Company to ensure that parents (or anyone for that matter!) could easily find natural and non-toxic eco-friendly products that are beautiful, effective, and affordable. From customized product bundles to diapers and wipes to an ever-expanding line of cleaning and personal care products, you can find everything you need at Honest.com and have it delivered directly to your front door.



Bulu Box Giveaway! Superior Vitamins and Supplements

by Tiffany in Tidbits

I have made it no secret that I adore the idea of subscription boxes with monthly goodies. I have tried many of them, mostly related to healthy food products and eco friendly products. Each month it feels like you have been given a wonderful gift (even though you bought the boxes) and going through them and trying everything is super exciting and fun. It is also a great way to try products sample sizes affordably and see how you like them before you buy certain products at full price. I have discovered lots of great stuff because of these box subscription services… tooth powder, shampoo, herbal soaps, snacks foods, and many other goodies.

That said I have long wanted to try a Bulu Box and crazily enough have yet to drop the hammer on that one. I guess it is because I am so picky about food (no grains) and supplements (high quality only) and don’t want to be disappointed but I seriously have to try this one. It is the first box subscription dedicated to superior vitamins and supplements for men and women and with how expensive many of these products are (my fave fish oil is $60+ per tiny bottle!) this is an awesome way to get to try some new products without breaking the bank. They are also supposed to be superior products so none of the crap you find on clearance at big box stores.

About Bulu Box

The Bulu Box is the perfect example of try before you buy. Each month you are subscribed you will get a box with samples to try, along with coupons and discount codes for full-size products.  Try 4 to 5 nutritional samples monthly before you buy and discover what works best for you and your body. Watch the video to learn more.

Right now you can GET YOUR FIRST BOX FREE! All you do is sign up at Bulu box and use the code 1FREEBOX and your first month will be free. You can cancel anytime but you might want to stick around and check it out because I have heard that they have had some pretty worthwhile boxes.


The Prizes

1 year Gift Subscription ($120 value) AND a 1 year subscription ($120 value)… winner will get a 1 year subscription and can give a 1 year subscription to a friend.

Perfect Giveaway right before the Holidays…you have a gift to give a friend!!

The Giveaway will open up on 11/28 at 12:01 am EST and Close on 12/12 at 11:59 pm EST. Enter via the Rafflecopter below. Good Luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Blogs are not responsible for prize fulfillment. Sponsor will be sending the prize. Winning entrant will be emailed and be given 48 hours to respond before another reader is chosen. Giveaway is open to US residents only. Complete giveaway terms and conditions.


French Kids Eat Everything

by Tiffany in Book Reviews, Healthy Eating

I have a bit of a love affair going on with all things French right now. This is due in no small part to the some of the books coming out about French living, parenting philosophies, and cooking for kids. Do you remember my review of the awesome book Bringing Up Bebe – The Wisdom of French Parenting? Well that got me started and I can’t seem to stop. I loved that book and it made me realize that whereas attachment parenting resonated most with me whilst my kids were little I am definitely taking a page from French moms nowadays. It was where I was introduced to the concept of equilibre (eh-key-lee-bruh) or balance. Not letting any one part of life – including being a parent –  overwhelm the other parts. Everyone probably wishes they had some do-overs in regards to parenting choices but one of my do overs would be to have lots more equilibre as a mom, wife, and woman with her own interests and passions.

Among others books I have recently picked up are Paris in Love: A Memoir about a woman who sold off her belongings and moved her family to Paris for a year. I wish!! Also French Kids Eat Everything: How Our Family Moved to France, Cured Picky Eating, Banned Snacking, and Discovered 10 Simple Rules for Raising Happy, Healthy Eaters.

Just like the aforementioned parenting book, I loved French Kids Eat Everything. Like the previous author, Karen Le Billon also moved to France only to be amazed by how mannerly French kids were and how they eat anything and everything set before them. French kids could manage to stay well behaved through a four hour meal with their parents and they relished foods that her own kids wouldn’t touch. The stark contrast between her own children and french children spurred her to investigate just what French parents were doing to achieve the near miraculous. This book is the result of all that research and also a memoir of her experiences and conversations. It is not only informative and helpful…it is also a page turner. How many parenting books and healthy eating books can boast that??

Once again I was amazed by how the school system works in France and just how well kids there eat. It is really a very rigid system and actually a rather punitive. No one’s quirks and preferences are pandered to and you if you don’t toe the line and conform to the rule of standard you are ostracised. While that may sound bad to me if that involves test scores or homework I see lots of value in that if it is nutrition education. Food education is mandatory in the French schooling system and this is so important because it ensures that all French children are eating healthy diets regardless of circumstance. We can see how in America it is the wealthier people who have greater access to healthy foods and nutrition education. It is just not like that in France. All kids from the time they are babies are encouraged to eat healthy foods within the school and daycare systems (also government run). Parents had the same education so they are on the same page. It really appears to be an awesome example of citizens and government being in sync with what is best for the people and nutritional health. In America the guy who vandalizes a McDonalds goes to jail. In France he is elected to office for being a crusader (true story).

In the US our government subsidizes crap food to make it artificially cheap whilst keeping healthy foods out of the reach of the poorer individuals. Nutrition education is also a joke. In France the kids are not only being taught from day one what is healthy to eat they are provided stellar meals with fresh fruit and veggies making an appearance every day (and being eaten), meats that include real chicken, fish, crab, roast pork (even in the poorest districts), real desserts (not twinkies), and water instead of sugary colored milk. Some schools even send home meals suggestions in advance for evening meals so that children are eating a perfectly planned and balanced diet.

You also won’t find too much of the fake processed foods in France that Americans seem to love so much. They have an affinity for healthy, quality foods and take pride in being foodies who want only the best. That may sound elitist but remember this is EVERYONE from the rich banker, to the school teacher, to the guy who fixes carburetors.

There are ten food rules in the book that were modeled to reflect the way of the French system and the author used to them to overhaul her own family’s eating habits. Many of them  I copied into a notebook or on post it notes on the frig. Food rule #2 is to avoid emotional eating by not using food as a pacifier, punishment, or reward. I know this to be excellent advice but it is so hard to do in practice, especially if you were raised in a contradictory way. #3 revolves around scheduling and planning meals (much better than I currently do) and making sure kids eat what the adults eat or they don’t eat…period. Amen to that as I chuck my short order cooking apron.

Food rule #4 is all about making all meal times social and beautiful, ala setting the table like royalty is coming to dinner and really making every meal meaningful. #7 is about avoiding snacks, which we are already implementing. Snacking is just not done in France and I happen to LOVE this. I have such a hard time convincing my own kids that they will not die if they are not allowed to graze all day.

One of the best tips I picked up was about adding more veggies to the diet (I forget what food rule that was). The author started making soups reminiscent of the purees that French babies eat to train their palates for all manner of fresh veggies. Her kids were older but she wanted to introduce them to veggies (which they refused to touch) in much the same way. Hubby and I discussed it and are now planning menus that include a thick veggie based soup as a first course before the main event. Think carrot soup, leek soup, cauliflower soup, broccoli soup, turnip soup, ect with lots of fresh herbs and spices thrown in. I can make just enough so that everyone gets about 1/4 cup to a whole cup and that needs to be eaten first. A particular soup never appears more than once in the same week. There are usually veggies in the main dish too but this just adds another veggie opportunity and a way to sneak stuff in that they normally won’t eat. Such a simple yet brilliant idea and the book is full of great tips and ideas.

I highly recommend French Kids Eat Everything as leisure reading for the health minded but especially if you struggle with making sure your kids are eating a varied and balanced diet. Enjoy!


Tuesday, November 27th, 2012

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Organic Lip Balms for Dry Winter Lips

by Tiffany in Beauty

I am sure that you are very familiar with the loads of lip balms and chapsticks that frequently appear near grocery check out lines. There are lots of choices in theory but none that are all that healthy for us unless you are at a health food store. The leading brand is full of parabans, petroleum, and chemical dyes and fragrance. Not something we should be rubbing on our lips. Sadly this is the case for most lip balms found in conventional stores.

There is also a market for these products year round. Our lips get chapped, dry, and cracked in the summer from the sun and the same in the winter from the dry air and wind. I know that ever since winter weather made its arrival here in Ohio I have been using lip balm non-stop on myself and on my kids. My hubby is also a big user, as is evident from the all the plastic tubes I find in the wash, after he forgot to take them out of his work pants pockets.

I recently tried four alternative products to the mainstream and all are effective as well as safe and healthy…all from Eco Lips. They came to us just in the nick of time. All Eco Lips products are petroleum free and most are organic or nearly organic and fair trade.

I also read online that Eco Lips has in the past had a recycling program where they take back their lip balm tubes though I could find nothing on the site currently to verify this…I have sent a long a question about that and hope to post the response when I hear back. I really don’t like using metal tins and applying lip balm with my finger so using a plastic tube is preferred, provided you can recycle the tubes.

Update 11/28/12: Eco Lips no longer has a recycling program. Bummer.

Moving on…

My fave is the Eco Lips Restore One World Lip Balm. It comes in three exotic blends and all are fair trade and organic. Restore is Coconut Ginger, Relax is Lavender Lemon, and Renew is Orange Spice (I have this one). I absolutely love the more mature flavors as opposed to the sickly sweet cherry that is so popular among the leading brand. This balm smells good and tastes good. It has become my go-to lip balm and I carry it in my purse. When I run out, I am soooo buying this one again…

Another favorite is the Eco Lips – Eco Tints lip moisturizer in Rose Quartz. I love it! Not only does it work and last a long time it gives my lips just a hint of color. It is more than appropriate to wear to the gym for just a hint of color that doesn’t make me looking like I am trying to glam up and wear makeup to lift weights in. I am not a big lipstick wearer actually because I so unused to wearing any that I feel like a clown when I do. The Eco Tints balm is perfect for me…subdued color. 90% organic.

The Eco Lips Gold Balm is the softest and most luxurious of the bunch. It feels like liquid silk going on your lips. It’s just the finest organic ingredients and no scent for no frills lip protection. No GMOs.

Last up is the Eco Lips Dagoba Chocolate Lip Balm line.  It is an organically tasty treat in three flavors – Lavender, Mint and Roseberry. I have the mint flavor. Yummy! This one is also silky soft and I love the mint and chocolate combo. Who wouldn’t???

The entire line was created by a mom who wanted a better product and started crafting them in her kitchen for her family and friends. The right person got a sample and the rest is history…it is now an ethical and healthy line of lip balms that I am happy to use in my own household.

Interested in trying them out yourself? I am able to give away an Eco Lips Lip Care Kit to one of my readers. Just fill out the Rafflecopter form below. Good luck!