The Big Green Parenting Experiment

raising a healthy family in a toxic world

bring it on 2013! my resolutions

Unbelievable. Here I am, on New Year’s Eve, wondering where 2012 went. This has been a remarkable year for my family and I and I am confident that 2013 will be even better. I am totally one of those people who is looking back, reflecting on the year and thinking of the changes that I want to make for 2013.

Yes, I make resolutions. I do believe that a new year is great motivation to make fresh starts and set goals. Some succeed, some fail. For 2013 I’m going all out and focusing on something that I have been neglecting: ME. These resolutions are important goals that I have set to help me feel like me again, more like a human. As a first time mom, I’ve been completely focused on the happiness and well being of my baby. And while I understand that this is completely normal, I also understand that my mood and energy affects hers also. By focusing a bit more on myself, I can be better for her and for my husband.

So, here they are:

1. Eat clean. (again). I feel so incredible when I am eating a totally clean diet. My biggest challenge is going to be conquering my sugar addiction. My plan is to go cold turkey and try to replace refined sugar with more fruits and clean substitutes. I plan to log what I’m eating and drinking, focusing on fresh, whole foods and plenty of water. I used to do this and I know I can. Also, contuining our crusade to rid our house of GMOs.

2. Scheduled exercise. I used to be fit. I so want to get back there. I used to weight train 4-5 times a week, run 9-10 miles 3 times a week and do yoga every day possible. My goal is to schedule 20-30 minutes of “me time” a day to do an intense workout. My body is really craving it and I know it’ll be the boost I need to gain my self confidence and energy back. I can’t wait to have that “hurts in a good way” feeling again. I am also running the Saratoga half marathon this year so I WILL be ready!

3. Work on time management. Routines work. It can be tough with a teething toddler who may or may not resist a nap and require my undivided attention. But much like she thrives on a routine, I think I will too. Allot time for housework, exercise, meditation, play, husband, blogging (of course) and rest. I would love to try and devote time to all of these things that are so important to me. All of the things that make me ME.

These are some pretty tall orders, I know. But I’ve done them all before and I CAN do them again. The better I am, the better I will be for my family and that is my motivation.

Better me = better us.

Let’s get this New Year started!

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Review and GIVEAWAY: Zenoobi.com

I was very excited to be contacted by Zenoobi.com to do a review of their fabulous site and one of their products. If you’re unfamiliar, Zenoobi is an eco-friendly and organic online retailer offering merchandise that ranges from baby and kids to furniture and household items. After exploring the site I was thoroughly impressed with the variety of merchandise that they have to offer.

At first glance, the site is very well-organized and offers a perfect balance of simplicity and variety. It is extremely easy to navigate and very user-friendly. It is apparent that the website is thoughtfully designed for a pleasant shopping experience. I had a very good first impression of the site.

I loved browsing the various products that they have to offer, from adorable organic baby clothing to my personal favorite, Aden + Anais swaddle blankets! (If you don’t already own at least one of these, now is your chance! Great gift, too!) There are a variety of natural bath & body products including the Earth Mama line, unique toys and crafts and even furniture for your little one or the nursery. And if that’s not enough for you, they also offer a large selection of natural cleaning products, bedding and household items.  Zenoobi.com carries an array of reputable names such as Happy Baby organics, Mrs. Meyers cleaning products, GreenToys, thinksport and many others.

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Zenoobi.com carries a fantastic selection of items for mama’s and mama’s to be. I received a bottle of Earth Mama Angel Baby Happy Mama Spray to try out. I haven’t tried many aromatherapy type products so I was eager to give it a shot. Described as ‘bliss in a bottle’, this spray is specially formulated with a blend of oils to be uplifting during stressful times and to curb pregnancy nausea. As the mother of a toddler, I used it for the former. The fresh citrusy scent is indeed uplifting! A spritz in the air or on the wrist and it really does give a refreshing feeling of calm. I’m sure the deep breath helps too! I obviously didn’t get to test the effectiveness on nausea. I have a hunch that it would depend on the woman as we all have very different aversions during pregnancy. I wouldn’t hesitate to give it a try if I should ever find myself pregnant again. I thoroughly enjoy this ‘bliss in a bottle’ and look forward to having it handy when we get further into toddlerhood and I need burst of serenity now!

Zenoobi.com is a great site for those, like myself, who like to support eco-friendly retailers. Based on my experience thus far, I would highly recommend giving them try. If we all did our part to select environmentally responsible products and support retailers like Zenoobi, the world would be a better place!

HOW ABOUT A GIVEAWAY???

Zenoobi.com is generous enough to be offering one of my lucky readers a $20 gift code for their site! Great time to pick up one of those sweet swaddle blankets I was raving about!

You will get one entry for each of the following:

1. Like Zenoobi on facebook and leave a comment about the giveaway. Bloggers be sure to ‘like’ from your personal FB page for it to be counted.

2. Like the big green parenting experiment on facebook and leave a comment. (Again, from your personal account.) if you already like the bgpe, leave a comment saying so to receive your entry.

3. Sign up for the Zenoobi.com newsletter and mention it in one of the above comments.

All entrants will receive a gift from Zenoobi.com, so please be sure to leave your comments so I can contact you! Who couldn’t use an extra $20 towards gifts right now? I know I could!

Zenoobi.com also states that they plant a tree for every order placed! How sweet is that?!

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day 9: 30 days of thanks

Good health.

I am super thankful that my family and I are healthy. I am truly thankful for this. Every day we read horror stories of children battling rare diseases and statistics of people who have lost their battles. It is completely heartbreaking. There is so much illness and suffering today and I am so thankful that we have our health.
This is one of the many reasons that we are so committed to awareness of what we put into our bodies. Trying to focus on a clean, organic diet helps to limit the amount of harmful chemicals, hormones and pesticides that we ingest. Many of these chemicals are known to harshly and negatively impact the body and immune system, while others still have yet to be tested. Fear of the unknown is enough for me to avoid them!
It’s so important for all of us to do our best to care for our health and bodies. Even if we can’t control our genetics, we can help steer them in a more positive direction. Just remember how lucky you are every day for your health. You only get one chance at this. Take care of yourself.
I vow to always appreciate and be thankful for my health and the health of my family. I will do whatever it takes to protect that and to never take it for granted.
So here’s to our health!

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fresh friday: buttercup squash soup!

Autumn has arrived! Falling leaves, chilly mornings and crisp cool air…
Isn’t it just amazing how a change in the air can control your cravings? For me lately it’s been buttercup squash. We love it roasted and mashed with warm freshly roasted garlic! It just tastes like fall! There’s also apples, pumpkins and classic fall spices. And hot cider… and baked goods… and red wine… Fall sure is delicious!

For fresh Friday this week I am sharing a scrumptious fall soup recipe. To be honest, I’m not a huge soup fan. Except in the fall, when flavors such as these are at their peak.

buttercup squash soup

ingredients

  • 3 T. butter
  • 1 medium onion, coursely chopped
  • 1 jalapeno pepper, coursely chopped
  • 2 large carrots, peeled & chopped
  • 1 large potato, cubed
  • 1 large buttercup squash, peeled, seeded & cubed
  • 4 c. stock or water
  • 1/2 c. cream

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Melt butter in a large pot. Add onions and sauté until tender. Add potatoes, carrots and jalapeño and stir to coat. Add buttercup chunks, followed by stock or water. (For this batch I used Pacific organic free range low sodium chicken stock. Just be aware of the sodium content if you choose to use a chicken or vegetable stock.)

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Bring pot to simmer for 30 minutes. Transfer in batches into blender or food processor and purée. Return to a large pot or, in this case, a crock pot. Once everything has been puréed, stir in cream and season with salt and pepper to taste. Enjoy hot!

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This is such a fantastically tasty soup! I can’t wait to enjoy some… tomorrow. This batch is going to a Harvest Moon Celebration that we will be attending tomorrow! I can’t wait to share it. Perfect for a crisp fall day. For maximum enjoyment, devour with some crusty bread and Octoberfest! Yum. Fall flavors at their finest!

Enjoy and happy Friday!!

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fresh friday: sun-dried tomato pesto!

Still buried in tomatoes over here!  We are still enjoying them, though and we are starting to get pretty creative.  I’ve been making a LOT of classic pesto this summer so this week I decided to make one of my husband’s favorites. Sun dried tomato pesto!  So good.

 I did a bunch of research online about oven drying tomatoes and I decided to give that a try. We do own a dehydrator but it would have taken DAYS for tomatoes to dry.  I just wasn’t feeling that patient.  I’m still not so sure about the oven drying, but for this purpose it worked out fine.  And the outcome was delicious!

To dry the tomatoes, I simply set the oven to 250 and placed the halved tomatoes on parchment lined baking sheets.  I used red slicer tomatoes and some green tiger heirlooms.

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According to different sites online, drying time can vary anywhere from 2 to 12 hours, depending on the size of the tomatoes. It ended up taking mine about 10.  Roma’s may have been a better choice, but I just used what I had.  They came out a bit sticky as if there was still a bit of moisture in them.  But I was ready for bed, so I considered them done. I think next time I’ll just suck it up and get out the dehydrator, but I’m glad I tried it.

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Now, on to the PESTO!

sun-dried tomato pesto

ingredients

1 1/2 c. sun-dried tomatoes
1/2 c. fresh basil
1/2 c. extra virgin olive oil
2-3 cloves of garlic
1/3 c. fresh grated parmesan cheese
1/3 c. walnuts (or pine nuts)

*All of the quantities are approximate and can be adjusted to your taste. 

Place sun-dried tomatoes, basil, garlic and some of the olive oil in food processor and pulse 5 or 6 times.  Add remaining olive oil, parmesan cheese and nuts (I only had walnuts on hand.) and turn food processor on for 30 seconds.  Scrape down sides of bowl and turn on for another 30 – 60 seconds, depending on desired consistency.  You may need to add more olive oil if you’d like a thinner pesto.  I tend to keep it a bit thick and spreadable and dilute it with olive oil, if i have to, as I use it.

Pack into cute, small jar that you’ve been saving just for pesto and store in refrigerator.  Actually, any air tight container will do.

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That’s it!  It’s so easy and SO good!  We love to spread it on our dough when we make pizza instead of sauce.  I think today during nap time I’m going to try to make some whole wheat ciabatta rolls.  I’m envisioning grilled eggplant (we still have 2 from CSA last week), fresh mozzarella and sun-dried tomato pesto on a ciabatta panini!  I may have to update this post if my vision actually comes to life!

OK.  I am now officially hungry!

Happy Friday!  Enjoy!

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apples, apples, apples

It’s that time of year again here in Upstate New York!  The evening air is crisp and cool, the days are noticeably shorter and I am starting to crave apples and delicious, savory crock pot meals!  This will be the first autumn that we will be able to bring Schy apple picking and I am REALLY looking forward to it.  Of course, I have a hang up.  I really hate pesticides.  And apples are #1 on the dirty dozen list.  I’m what one might refer to as ‘anal’ when it comes to these things.    I really don’t want her (or us) to miss out on the seasonal fun of apple picking.  So what to do aside from planting our own orchard and waiting decades for our trees to mature?

I found this great website called GrowOrganicApples.com.  This website is AMAZING!  It’s a holistic orchard network that “focuses on sharing sustainable fruit-growing techniques that emphasize orchard soil health which in turn makes for healthy trees and thus healthy apples and — blessed be! — healthy people.”  There is so much great information on this site regarding growing practices, sustainability and grower resources.  It was so interesting to read the Holistic Core Values, which are essentially the guidelines for the network farmers to follow for optimal ecosystem health, living soil practices and achieving the greatest and healthiest product for us and our families.  It discusses inevitable disease and pest management and holistic methods of treatment and prevention.  This is the kind of thing that makes me so happy!  It gives me hope for the future of farming and sustainable practices.   I feel reassured that the effort of supporting local is truly worth it.

This is all very exciting, but what’s even better is that there is an orchard listing that directs you to participating holistic growers in your area.  I am beyond excited to announce that there a few orchards in New York, with one of those being about a half hour away!  I hope that you’ll all check out this great resource and use this awesome directory to find delicious, organic apples in your area.

Let’s pack up the car… we’re going apple pickin’!

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