What to Drink Instead of Soda

by Tiffany in Healthy Eating

What to Drink Instead of SodaSoda is one those hot button topics for many. Health minded parents think of it as thorn in their side…something always there to tempt kids into drinking tons of sugar. Many people could care less and they happily consume it in mass quantities and cry foul whenever legislation arises to tax it or limit it. It is a hot topic because it is a hugely controversial product and hugely unhealthy.

Now this is not to say that my own kids never have soda. In fact they do. It is our rule that soda is not to be consumed at home but if we eat out (which is not very often) they can order soda. If we go to someone else’s home who has soda we require they drink a full of glass of water before they drink the soda and typically this means they cannot finish the soda, which is a-okay with me. For some reason it never occurred to me until JUST now that we could also do this at restaurants. Hello? New rule!

Why don’t I ban it completely? Well, I don’t want my kids to lose respect my words of wisdom when they inevitably see other kids all around them who are allowed to drink the sugary stuff. I don’t want them to think I am some hippy dippy overreacting mom and thus make the soda even more powerful in their minds. Whether or not  this is a good idea remains to be seen (letting them have ANY that is). I am hoping that they develop a keen eye for the dangers of soda and that they end up liking so many other beverage options they don’t need it later on in life. I also hope to turn out kids who can make wicked back of home brewed Kombucha!

I was encouraged recently to read an article about how soda makers are reporting lower revenues and how the production of high fructose corn syrup is declining. This is great news in my mind although this is also why the soda companies are now buying out companies that make healthier drinks, like my Zico coconut water I can no longer drink thanks to them being bought by GMO supporting Coke. Ugh! At any rate if soda profits are falling then people are getting wise to just how bad this stuff is. Another article came across my radar this morning about a 31 year old woman who died due to what her doctors call a Coke addiction. She was drinking 2 gallons of the stuff a day and even gave birth to a child who had no tooth enamel, thanks to the soda. Scary stuff!

The part that stuck out to me in that article was how her family feels she was addicted and had withdrawal symptoms whenever she tried to stop drinking it. I had a similar experience when I stopped drinking soda. It was 2-3 days of terrible flu like symptoms and headaches. That stuff really is addicting and I have no doubt that years from now it will be common knowledge that soda companies formulated products with that in mind.

So what you can drink instead of soda? Here are some of the things we drink. What do you drink?

Flavored Water – Add ginger, citrus fruits or berries (can also be frozen), herbs, cucumber, vinegar.

Water Kefir

Coconut Kefir

Milk Kefir

Coconut Water


Kombucha – Can make tons of different flavors by adding fruit/juice

Fizzy Juice – Use a soda stream and concentrated juice

Fruit Smoothies

Green Smoothies

Green Juices

Wednesday, February 13th, 2013

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Urban Farm Magazine Deal

by Tiffany in Tidbits

urban farm magazineI must confess that I have a bit of a magazine obsession. I LOVE magazines and last year I went kinda nuts with deals on subscriptions. I ended up with way too many magazines arriving in my mailbox but it was a valuable lesson for me on what I actually read and what I don’t. Parenting magazines, no. Better Homes, no. Ladies Home Journal, no. Why did I even order those???

Mags like Oxygen, Health, Country Living, Mother Earth News, Mary Jane’s Farm, and Hobby Farms…yes, yes, yes. I keep them and re-read annually just to keep enjoying them. They are great insulators if you stack them against an outside wall. Though I am converting some to digital subscriptions so I can read them on my tablet from the comfort of my bed. The others I give away on Freecycle or I sell them at my mom’s annual garage sale for .10 cents a piece. They always sell so I guess lots of people like magazines as much as I do.

Well, another of my faves is on sale. I just HAD TO. Today only you can get a one year subscription to Urban Farm magazine for the amazing price of only $4.50 (normally $15.00+).

Just add the coupon code 2479 and it will reduce the price in your cart. Can’t beat that!

Thursday, January 24th, 2013

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I Resolve to Make 2013 Another Great Year

by Tiffany in Tidbits


I thought today would be a fitting day to not only get off my duff and come back to work/blogging after a ten day vacation but also to write up a post with my New Year’s goals for 2013. If you recall I had three goals or resolutions for 2012 with the main one forming a sort of theme… HAVE MORE FUN!!! Well I knocked that resolution out of the park.

Here is a picture of me thoroughly enjoying 2012…

Okay so that isn’t actually me that picture kinda sums it up though.

I took three trips with girlfriends (3-5 days each) that involved lots of parties and special events. One of those was to the Big Apple.  I had much fun indeed and came home with lots of free tech and other products. I met up with local bloggers and friends for lunch/brunch dates throughout the year. I got on a zipline with my husband, I took the kids to the beach, we did our annual winter hikes, I went on a slightly terrifying four-wheeling adventure, I attended several local blogger events including a tour of a hospital, a couple movie premiers, and a couple trips to the science museum. We actually just saw the exhibit with the dead bodies on display this month…that was super interesting! I went to the Arnold Sports Festival with hubby and The Country Living Fair with my mom. I got to borrow several cars for an extended test drive this year, went out for regular date nights, and I discovered a deep and abiding love for CrossFit. I have had a blast!

So goal #1 down. How did I do with  the other two. Not so well.

#2 was to make more money and I made about the same but because of all the aforementioned fun it feels like way less. The fun goal, our fitness pursuits, and our paleo diet all meant we started spending more.

#3 was to get more organized and that was mostly a failure. I did set up an organization infrastructure but I don’t use it that often.

So what does that mean for this year??? Well, if at first you don’t succeed…

My top goal for this year is to…

Make More Money

I want to keep the fun going and have already had to slow my roll to some extent and that just won’t do so this goal needs to be tackled again and put at the top. I also think we will be hit with some bigger expenses this year because our car may be on it’s last wheel, our son will have some medical bills/procedures due to a previously un-diagnosed birth defect, we want to get all three of our kids in CrossFit, and I have more “fun goals” for this year (see below).  I DO plan to cut costs where I can but in general I want to tackle this issue with an income increase.

Ways to cut costs would include joining my hubby on his cell contract when mine ends in (March), dropping my other gym membership when my two year contract expires (also in March), and renegotiating our cable when our current deal ends. Other than that I can’t cut much. Our most major expense is food. Paleo isn’t cheap but I am not willing to buy lower quality food. We already buy second hand clothing and furnishings. We don’t have high cost of living expenses (rent, utilities) and we save on entertainment by bundling services and buying prepaid/discount cards for things like Xbox Live memberships. We could do without our NetFlix sure but we don’t want to and as pointed out in one of my fave books All The Money in The World, pinching pennies like that can ultimately deflate you in your goals.

I blogged about how I plan to make more money with my business here. My hubby will also no doubt work overtime when he can.

Goal #2 is to

Have More Fun As a Family

Now that I feel recharged after a year of focusing on my own self care and fun I want to focus on bringing my family into the mix as well. It’s not that we didn’t have fun together in 2012 but it was not my focus. With my youngest finally entering Kindergarten I felt it was a good year to rediscover my own interests and pursuits and it was needed badly. It is rather like putting the oxygen mask on yourself first in the airplane and THEN putting a mask on your child. I had to take care of me first and I do very much feel like “Tiffany” again and not just “Mom”.

In 2013 though I plan to make sure my family is included in more of my adventures. I will likely forgo attending any professional conferences this year so that we can do something together instead. Though I must admit I already have an out of town press event scheduled in a just a couple days that will take me away from them. Oops! I want to rent a yurt in a state park, take a ferry across Lake Erie, see more children’s movies, go camping, and in general do a bit more traveling with my kiddos this year. To that end I already have some indoor water park passes purchased for January/February.

Also, as mentioned, I want to get a CrossFit membership for all three of our kids (ranging from $60 to $100 monthly, depending on age). Spending over $400 on gym memberships will be a stretch but working out together will be lots of fun!!

Goal #3 is to

Make My Husband/Marriage a Priority

I have a great marriage and it’s not like I am neglecting the man or anything but this year marks our 15 year wedding anniversary and over 20 years together. The man deserves to be one of my goals this year! Plus its not really about time so much as it is about making him feel loved and special more often. We already spend lots of time together. We go to the box together for CrossFit 5-7 days a week. I kick his behind in cardio/chipper based WODs and he kicks my butt on the weighted ones. We spend our afternoons together while the kids are at school doing everything from grocery shopping to watching DVRed episodes of our favorite shows. I often tell this man how much I love and adore him but I need to make some grander gestures and just give it that extra attention. Specifically this means more random acts of love expression, surprise gifts, hand written notes, packing his work meals for him, arranging more date nights and date weekends (sans children), and finding new ways to show this man I am as crazy about him now as I was when I was 16. If we can afford to go away together for our anniversary in August I will be ecstatic.

Goal #4 is to

Do More Philanthropic Work

This means blogging more about things along these lines and I will as a member of the Global Team of 200 but also getting involved more where I can personally. I want to volunteer often and find some charitable causes important to me and really throw some energy and resources in that direction. I would also like to get my kids involved as much as I can.

I think these four goals are more than enough to work on for 2013. As for organization…well on some level I will have to get better with that to accomplish the other three. Perhaps this year I can really rock goal #1 and have enough money to pay someone to organize for me. We shall see!

I also plan to post separately with some green goals…

What are your goals/resolutions for the New Year?

2nd photo: photo source


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

20 Comments on French Kids Eat Everything


Support Malala Day on November 10th

by Tiffany in Political Action

I will be the first to admit that I am terribly bad about following what is going on outside my own local bubble. I don’t watch the news at all and what little exposure I do get to worldwide events is usually filtered through Facebook. That said, even I took notice when Malala Yousafzai, a sweet 14 year old schoolgirl in Pakistan, was brutally shot by the Taliban in retaliation for promoting girls’ education in her country.

I have an 8 year old daughter so this event really hit home for me. I am thankful that my daughter and I were born into the country and world view that we were. We are so fortunate and not everyone is so lucky. Many, many other young girls and women are born into a world were they must fight for even the most basic rights…such as the right to a good education. Millions of young children, but especially young girls, all over the world are denied access to education. When we hear this we are concerned and outraged but we have little idea if there is anything we personally can do to help.

Well, on November 10th we have the opportunity to unify and be heard in support of young Malala. Here is how you can help:

  • Sign the petition to call on Pakistan to agree to a plan to deliver education to all its children:
  • Spread the word. Inform your audience of the #IamMalala campaign and invite them to sign the petition.
  • Spend November 10th in solidarity for Malala Day. Former UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown – the UN Special Envoy for Global Education – and his wife Sarah will deliver this petition to the Pakistani president on this day.
On November 10th let’s honor Malala and other young children who are in similar situations…

This post was written as a member of the Global Team of 200 – Mom Bloggers for Social Good.