In the Know With Abe’s Market

by Tiffany in Natural Product Reviews

I discovered Abe’s Market sometime last year when I came across a cardboard dollhouse with furniture that I knew my 7 year old daughter would just love. It ended up being a birthday present and my daughter still plays with it quite often. Even though it is made of cardboard it is still going strong.

This store is part Etsy and part Whole Foods with a mix of posh and sustainable toys as well as some handcrafted stuff. But they also have a little Amazon, Groupon and Home Shopping Network thrown in their to to make a really well rounded online store. Abe’s Market is about combining the best things that Grandpa Abe represented – health and wellness, mom and pop, reliability, trust, honesty, community and personal connection between business owners and customers. They also have great prices IMO. I recall that dollhouse being a real steal.

Well, the folks at Abe’s Market are celebrating their new “In the Know” video series by offering my readers a kickin coupon deal. The idea behind the series is to help consumers find out where the the products they are buying come from and the story behind them. This valuable background goes beyond what can be found on a label. Who makes the product? What’s in it? Where is it made? How? I recall watching their video about the dollhouse when I purchased it. I already thought it was an amazing idea but it looks like they are taking that idea even farther and adding educational videos on all sorts of other topics. This one below talks about shopping for natural, organic, eco friendly toys.



With Christmas coming up I thought a $10 off coupon might come in handy. Enjoy!

Visit the store and use the special one-time only discount code “ENB-dk49hy” at checkout for $10 off a $30 purchase or more. Also visit @AbesMarket on Twitter and Facebook.


Non Toxic Nail Polish for Halloween

by Tiffany in Beauty, Green Holidays

Came across this awesome nail polish set today and had to share. Nail polish is IMO one of the nastiest products you can buy but several companies are now marketing non toxic nail polish and this is good news for moms of little girls who love to wear nail polish. This particular nail polish is made by one of those companies (Keeki Pure and Simple) and I LOVE that they have bundled Halloween sets, the Franken-Keeki Gift Pack. I want one for myself! The green is awesome although they call it Sour Apple Slushie and the black is Midnight Snack. My daughter can testify to the fact that the name is just as important as the color. ;) Although not in the Halloween pack, the Sugar Plum Nail Polish is an awesome purple color that would be great for Halloween too.

The Candy Corn Gift Pack has Lemonade, Marshmallow, and Orange Sorbet.

These nail colors have no parabens, phthalates and other nasty ingredients. They are also gluten-free, toluene-free, vegan, made here in the US, and never tested on animals.

Anxious for Halloween yet?

Related: Ditch the Nail Polish Nasties


Thrive Foods

by Tiffany in Book Reviews

If you have ever embraced a plant based or raw foods diet then you have likely heard of Brendan Brazier.  He is an Ironman Triathlete who also happens to be vegan. I have read about him in various raw foods books since he is quite the fan of raw foods but mostly I knew of him from his product Vega, which I have used in smoothies. Even if you are not raw it is beneficial IMO to look to raw supplement powders because they always tend to be made from whole, organic, healthy foods that are as close to their natural state as you can get. Despite being a fan of his product and admiring his achievements I never picked up any of his books. I guess I figured they were geared towards athletes and that did not interest me much. But after reading Thrive Foods I am thinking I should reserve some of his other books at my local library because this book at least, was very relevant to my life and to anyone concerned with healthy foods I suspect.

The concept behind it is very near and dear to my heart since I call myself a nourished vegetarian. That primarily means that I subscribe to WAPF ideas while maintaining a vegetarian diet. More specifically it means I try to eat a nutrient dense veggie diet. Thrive Foods is one of the best books I have read though that explains exactly what that means.

It was Brazier’s search for foods that would help him recover fast and make the greatest gains in his athletic training that lead him to the ideas in this book. He figured that if he wanted to keep improving his body and performance then he needed to concentrate on the regeneration process our bodies go through after we exercise. How well and how fast we regenerate depends on our cells – the biological building blocks. If our cells do not have everything they need to function they experience what he calls nutritional stress. At first Brazier did what most athletes do… consume mass quantities of food thereby consuming mass quantities of nutrients. When he didn’t get his desired results he decided to analyze his food choices more carefully and realized that being fed is not the same as being nourished.

He discovered that macronutrients is what he needed to be looking for. Foods that had the most bang for their buck or the most maronutrutrients per calorie, ie nutrient density. What amazed me was the idea that is our body’s search for missing nutrients is what causes us to feel hungry and not a need for more fuel (calories). I always thought  that when we felt hunger pangs it is was calories to keep the home fires burning that we needed. But after reading this book it was a light bulb moment for me because true enough if I eat a big handful of pretzels/crackers I will be hungry literally 5 minutes later. If I eat a banana though, I am satiated for awhile, even if it had less calories in it. It is in fact nutrients our body is asking for and here I thought my ravenous hunger of late meant I was not eating enough calories to support my increased exercise and weight lifting activities. For the past week or so I have been very mindful of nutrient density when choosing foods and have experienced almost no hunger even though I ate less calories than previous weeks. Whether that will mean more muscle remains to be seen but I am pretty convinced.

Where this book differs from WAPF ideas on nourishing foods is obviously the fact that it encourages plant based foods above animal products. While it is true that animal products may actually be more nutrient dense there are still rampant problems with them. Brazier goes into a step by step comparison of how efficient it is to eat animals versus eating select plants and when you consider all the resources used to grow feed crops and raise animals it is simply more efficient and less of a strain on our planet to go with plant based foods, even when considering shipping of more exotic varieties. The book even addresses grass fed and pastured animal products and does not dispute that they are favorable to other animal products for a variety of reasons. But he makes a convincing arguement for why these types of products could never be available to the whole planet. There simply would not be enough to feed everyone and that makes it unsustainable in the long run. I read the chapters that discuss this with great interest and I have read opposing ideas as well (ala The Vegetarian Myth) and Brazier definitely makes the most compelling and researched case.

The second half of his book goes through a variety of foods, page by page, highlighting why they are nutrient dense, healthy food choices. Then it concludes with 200 recipes. Many of the recipes came from celebrated chefs who specialize in plant based cuisine and this was done so we would get an amazing array of tried and true dishes that taste good. I plan on making many of them myself but I started with the Parsnip Oven Fries. I wanted an after school snack for my kids and this french fry look alike hit the spot. They cooked up nice and crispy but a bit too dark and that was my fault for gabbing on the phone while they were baking. Served them up with some catsup and the kids thought they were regular old fries (which excited them because I never make fries) with just a bit of an “off” taste. Plus they were full of healthy fats via coconut oil.

Will be trying some of the other recipes soon. I already see improvement in energy levels since reading Thrive Foods. It just makes you all that more aware of the nutrient density of the foods you are choosing and when I am aware I make better choices and get more nutrition out of my food overall. At the very least it has spurred me into eating more fresh fruit throughout the day, which has done wonders for the skin. LOVE the title too… it is about being nourished instead of just fed and it is about thriving instead of just getting by.

“Like” Brendan Brazier’s Facebook page for some free recipes from the book. Enjoy!

Monday, September 19th, 2011

3 Comments on Thrive Foods


Creative Cardboard Toys

Cardboard Castle

On the heels of my post on ethical toys and I wanted to post about cardboard toys. They are certainly not new… I remember I had a full size cardboard house that I used to play in when I was a little girl. It was very big, and it was black and white so that you could paint or color it yourself to personalize it. After many months of use, when it was starting to tear and generally look raggedy, we tossed it. Every year at Christmas time we would get another one from Sees Candy.

Cardboard toys are low cost and eco friendly. You can recycle them in your own backyard compost pile. They are also wonderfully creative toys for kids. Kids can assemble them and they can personalize them making the toy their own unique creation.

For the past couple weeks my kids have been playing with cardboard toys from the Creative Toyshop. They have TONS of awesome Calafant cardboard toys that go way beyond the simple house I used to play with. They have castles, tree houses, pirate fortresses, dollhouses, and so much more. They provide hours of open ended play and when your kids are done they can be folded away for storage or recycled if they are getting a little too well used.

Playing with a Cardboard Tree House

My oldest son has the Calafant tree house. He was pretty much able to put it together on his own from looking at the pictures. The written instructions were kind of useless IMO but the pictures rocked. After putting it together he got busy coloring it. In true creative form he opted not to let the color photo on the box guide his color choices. I knew he would like cardboard toys because for years he has made his own creations out of leftover cardboard boxes. Creating a tree house of cardboard.. heck what could be better?

My daughter has the Calafant Rosegarden Palace. I put it together for her in about ten minutes and she colored it. She referenced the color picture on the box but more often than not chose her own colors… which surprised me since she is all about pink and purple. On a side note she complained that the markers that came with it stunk really bad, LOL. They just had a really strong marker smell which she didn’t care for (she’s a soy crayon girl)… we ended up donating them after she used them.

Rosegarden Palace Carboard Toy

They both loved building and decorating these toys. My son now lets his sit in his room on display and my daughter plays with hers… putting her wooden fairy dolls in it. She plans on embellishing it with glitter and rhinestones… I just keep forgetting to check out the craft section of the thrift store.

I love that these toys are rather small since we don’t have a ton of room in our tiny 1000 square foot house. The child size cardboard house I used to have wouldn’t be practical but these are perfect. All pieces are pre-cut and pre-punched. They can be put together without glue and scissors thanks to the Calafant slot-system. They are creative, they provide hours of open ended play, they are eco friendly, and they are fun.

We probably all have memories of playing in cardboard boxes as kids. We too save any big boxes for the kids to play in before they get recycled. Cardboard toys take that concept and run with it. Calafant (German) makes small, medium, and large toys for all ages and interests. There are some larger ones that kids can play in too, just like I did. Fun!

Monday, September 21st, 2009

6 Comments on Creative Cardboard Toys


Little Green Star

Little Green Star Organic Shirt

One of the few NEW items my daughter will be sporting to school this year is an organic tee from Little Green Star. I made the commitment to buy mostly used and I am sticking to it. I make my final thrift store run next weekend. BUT I have no qualms about spending money on new clothes when they come from ethical companies with green values and Little Green Star is one of those companies IMO. And my daughter has to go to school with some shirts that declare our values right?

My daughter loves this natural tee with a ladybug on it that says “Ladies Don’t Litter”. It has become a motto for her and she goes around saying it all the time. And their other slogans are just as cute:

Peas Out
Water Pollution Makes me Crabby
Bee Green

I love that they have sizes for older kids (4-6T). It drives me batty when I see cute organic clothing and it is only for babies. The tees are 100% certified organic cotton and the designs are printed by hand with water-based inks that are PVC-free and phthalates-free. The prices are not out of ths world either.

Now that I have found my groove with used clothing, my new purchases are dwindling, but for Little Green Star I will make an exception.

Saturday, August 1st, 2009

10 Comments on Little Green Star