Archive for November, 2009

Winterizing

Growing Up Green!Welcome to the weekly series, Growing up Green.  This will be your eco-friendly stop for green, all-natural, toxin and chemical free tips for your family.   Learn simple and meaningful ways to make your children’s environment a little safer for their health and the earth.

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Mercury Dropping

The mercury is dropping which often times means a skyrocketing heating bill.  We live in an old home built in 1959.  There are many cracks and crevices for cold air to sneak in uninvited!  Over the past few weeks we have been gearing up for the winter and prevention of that unwanted out of control electric bill.

We started with developing a game plan for heating our home.  The house is equipped with baseboard electric heat which I’ve heard is very inefficient.  We also have a wood burning stove without a blower and one energy efficient space heater.  Initially we thought we would be doomed with the baseboard heating.  However we did some investigating and spoke with a patient who is an electric engineer.  He said that baseboard heating can actually be very efficient when used properly.  He said to turn them on when you are in a room and off when you leave.  They work well heating small spaces.  This will be great for the 2 bedrooms we use (the third room can just remain off).  It may be a little chilly when first going to bed but after testing it out they actually heat the rooms surprisingly quick.  They can be turned off during the day when the rooms are not in use.  We thought we would have to turn on all base boards in all rooms at a minimum thermostat level to prevent frozen pipes but he said that is not necessarily the case.  That brings us to the large living space where the kitchen, dinning and living rooms are located.  Baseboard heating would not be efficient in this area so we tested out our wood burning stove.  I was not too optimistic about it.  I’ve lived in homes with a fire place and it only heated a few feet in front of the hearth.  However, our neighbor has a stove and said it heats his entire house (his has a blower and duct system though).  We were hoping ours would at least heat our living area.  So on a cool night we tested it out.  We were pleasantly surprised.  That thing was HOT!!  It was in the 30’s outside and Greg had to put on shorts, he was sweating so much!  Granted he really loaded it up with wood thinking it would be a bust.  The entire living area, all 3 rooms registered at 80 degrees.  Its amazing what a difference it makes to with the stove that is not within the wall like a fire place.  I then emailed Jack’s midwife, Abby who lives on a large, beautifully wooded lot with many, many acres of woods.  She kindly allowed us to load up on fire wood and welcomed us back for more if needed.  I am now confidant we can heat our house at a low cost without breaking the bank!

Next was to seal up the cracks and crevices to prevent our cozy heat from escaping.  We started with the bedroom windows.  Greg created a wooden frame with heavy duty plastic staple gunned to the frame to create a barrier to place in the window.  We lined it with foam and shimmied it into the window.  There is no way even a molecule of air will get through that contraption!  The only down side is the plastic is not clear, it’s a cloudy white color.  I don’t mind because we don’t spend much time in the bedrooms outside of sleeping.  The sun does still come through and brightens the rooms too.  We did this for Jack’s room and ours.  For the windows in the bath, spare bedroom, dining room and the large bay window we purchased kits to cover the windows with plastic using double sided tape and a hair dryer.  Greg’s parents were over and couldn’t even tell the plastic was there.  Our curtains cover the edges nicely and the hair dryer helps remove all wrinkles.   To tackle the window wells we bought plastic covers, which Greg screwed into the brick to prevent snow from falling in.  We did purchase a second space heater incase we might need it.  Finally, we will be foaming one leaky door which we won’t be using during the winter.  I can tell our efforts have already paid off, our electric bill this month was less than last month and we have even used the bedroom baseboards a few times already.

Can you see the window covering?

Additional winterizing we will be finishing up, not related to heat is tilling our vegetable gardens to prevent weeds, cleaning the leaves out of the gutters, and adding an additional composting hole to our back yard (one just isn’t enough, need to rotate between two).

What are you doing to prepare your home for the winter cold and heating bill?   I’d love to hear from you!

Winterizing Check List

    1. Have a game plan for your main heat source

      Conserve!

    2. Seal up leaky windows and doors
    3. Set thermostats at 68 degrees instead of 70 – it WILL make a difference.  Grab an extra layer or blanket if you need.
    4. Have a family meeting to discuss how you will conserve energy by keep bedroom doors closed to keep heat in, turning off lights in rooms not occupied and unplugging appliances that are not in use.
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Hydrogenated Oils: Information You’ll Want to Read!

 

Healthy Home

Welcome to Healthy Home, an enlightening weekly series on Mom Going Green.  Healthy Home focuses on natural health topics for the whole family.  The goal of this series is to provide moms (and dads too), with information on how to achieve optimal health for the entire household naturally.   The series will include the latest in natural health news, wholesome health tips, yummy recipes, and natural health remedies that have worked for healthy homes in years past.

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Are the chemically altered oils in the foods you eat Killing you?

Watch out for these foods

Hydrogenated and Partially Hydrogenated Oils are found in countless processed foods on grocery store shelves.  So what are hydrogenated and partially hydrogenated oils?  They are liquid vegetable oils which have been turned into solid fat.  This is done by a process called hydrogenation where the structure of the oil has been chemically changed by adding hydrogen atoms.  During this hydrogenation process, some of the fat molecules change shape to create a completely unnatural type of fat known as trans fat.  One example is margarine.  Trans fats are appealing to food producers because they increase the shelf life of the product.  They are commonly found in baked goods, pastries, packaged crackers and cookies, and other processed foods marketed toward children.  There are 2 types of hydrogenated oils, partially hydrogenated and fully hydrogenated.  Partially hydrogenated oils are by far the worst.  They contain significant amounts of trans fat.  Fully hydrogenated oils have no trans fats and contain saturated fats only.  However, during the process of hydrogenation, there are likely to be some fat molecules that slip through the cracks and are not fully hydrogenated.  These fats remain partially hydrogenated and therefore, are likely to contain some small level of trans fat.     

Health Ramifications of Trans Fats

Health ramifications

Health ramifications of trans fats are evident and not good.  Trans fats increase LDL, the bad type of cholesterol, and decrease HDL, the good type of cholesterol.   According to a 2009 study by Harvard School of Public Health, “if you add just 2% more calories from trans fat to your diet there is a 23% increased risk for heart disease.”  Trans fat also increases inflammation in the body.  Chronic inflammation is linked to cancer, heart disease, diabetes, arthritis, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, acne, eczema, psoriasis, and multiple sclerosis.   It is widely agreed that trans fats are far worse for our health than saturated fats.  There are no known health benefits of trans fats.  So read your labels and be an educated shopper, and your family will reap the benefits.

Misleading FDA Labeling:

Is Zero Really Zero?  No!   According to the FDA a product can be labeled zero Trans fats if it has less than .5 grams.  If you have one serving of “zero” trans fats for each meal a day, after a week you could be taking in 10.5g Trans fats, that is 546g a year, when you think you are getting zero!  As a health conscious consumer I find this extremely frustrating and deceiving!  It’s loopholes like this that make it difficult for consumers to put their trust in the FDA, that they really do have the consumer’s best interest in mind.

Read your Labeles

Therefore when reading labels it is best to look at the ingredient list.  If it contains hydrogenated oil but states zero trans fats, you can guarantee trans fats are in the product.  Additionally you need to pay attention to the wording.  Often times it will say hydrogenated oil in the label and won’t specify if it is partially or fully hydrogenated.   “Hydrogenated oil” and “Partially Hydrogenated oil” are sometimes used interchangeably.  Therefore if it doesn’t say “Fully Hydrogenated Oil” then you have to assume that there are trans fats in the product.

Knowledge is power!  You may be overwhelmed when first digging through your cubbards or walking through the grocery isles at how many products have hydrogenated oils on the label.  Don’t be discouraged.  There are many healthy foods out there to choose from, it just takes a little more time and effort to find them.  The peace of mind I get from knowing that my family is eating wholesome foods without dangerous additives and ingredients such as hydrogenated oils makes the extra for reading labels well worth it!  I hope this gives you the knowledge and power to feel confidant in the foods you give your family.

Have you come across any foods you were surprised contained hydrogenated oil?  I’d love to hear from you.

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Homemade Green & Organic Play Dough

Growing Up Green!Welcome to the weekly series, Growing up Green.  This will be your eco-friendly stop for green, all-natural, toxin and chemical free tips for your family.   Learn simple and meaningful ways to make your children’s environment a little safer for their health and the earth.

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Jack 20 months Halloween 013Thursdays we have fun with art in our house and recently Jack and I created our own Green play dough.  The great think about homemade play dough is that you know and have control of every ingredient in it.  There was nothing toxic about our play dough.  I’t may not have tasted great if Jack put it in his mouth but it was safe without toxic chemical ingredients and dyes (see recipe below).  Once made, Jack enjoyed squishing and patting the play dough.  He also had fun guessing what animal, but or vehicle I was making.  Jack really wanted to drive the play dough car we made around the table but it wasn’t so hardy!  We enjoyed our art day with play dough.

 Green & Organic Play Dough:

–          1 cup Organic Flour

–          1 cup Warm Water

–          2/3 cup Sea Salt

–          2 tsp Cream of Tarter

–          1 tsp vegetable oil

–          Juice from ¼ Beet for red/pink color (*for blue try blueberry juice and for yellow try turmeric spice or curry powder.  Mix the above primary colors for additional colors.)

Mix the first 5 ingredients in a pot over medium heat.  Add in natural coloring.  Stir and heat until think.  Remove from heat and kneed until smooth.  Let cool then dig in!  Store play dough in an air tight container in your refrigerator.  Play dough will keep for quite a while.

** I have yet to try the blue or yellow yet.  If you have tried them or have another idea for all natural colors I’d love to hear about it!

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Jack 20 months Halloween 011

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Wordless Wednesday

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Smiling Happy Todler!

Jack loves to find our phones or camera and say “my-you” aka smile

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Diabetes: You Have the Power to Prevent it!

green apple

Healthy Home

Welcome to Healthy Home, an enlightening weekly series on Mom Going Green.  Healthy Home focuses on natural health topics for the whole family.  The goal of this series is to provide moms (and dads too), with information on how to achieve optimal health for the entire household naturally.   The series will include the latest in natural health news, wholesome health tips, yummy recipes, and natural health remedies that have worked for healthy homes in year past.

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November is national Diabetes Awareness month.  You may not think the timing is right with the holiday season around the corner.  Most people figure they’ll just enjoy the holidays and make changes come January 1st.  But why not go into the holidays with a different attitude this year;  of coming out on January 1st feeling great and ahead of the game!

It is estimated that 16 million Americans suffer from Type 2 diabetes.

outreach_diabetes_bottleEven more troubling is the fact that just a few years ago Type 2 Diabetes was more commonly known in the health care world as “Adult-Onset Diabetes”, but because of the poor diets and exercises habits of American children today, this name has been replaced as more and more of our children suffer from this preventable disease.  Diabetes and other preventable diseases also play a huge roll in the money toiletcurrent health care crisis.  According to The American Diabetes Association, the total annual economic cost of diabetes was estimated at 174 billion dollars in 2007.  It is astonishing that our country has allowed diabetes to become so wide spread and costly considering how preventable this disease is.

While it is outrageous that diabetes is so out of control in our country, it is not surprising that the number of Americans with diabetes is growing.  As a health care provider it is frustrating to see commercials on television touting the health benefits of “natural” high fructose corn syrup, especially in foods marketed towards children.  When I look in the coupon booklets in the weekly Sunday newspaper, 90% of them are for processed, unhealthy foods. There is so much money spent promoting the foods that have lead Americans to this diabetes epidemic!  Just take a walk down the aisles of your local grocery store.  They are filled with processed, convenience foods loaded with sugar and artificial, chemically created ingredients with names that are impossible to pronounce.  Sadly, the average American today eats this processed, unhealthy food for breakfast each day, goes to work where he or she sits at a computer, then eats a lunch with more processed, sugary foods, returns to the computer to work, sits in a car to go home, sits down for a dinner of even more unhealthy food, heads to the couch to sit and watch television, and finally goes to bed.  And we wonder why so many Americans must take diabetes medication to survive!

While diabetes is preventable, it takes a little bit of effort and will power.    Try shopping in the perimeter aisles of the grocery store where you will find fresh fruits, vegetables, and meats.  When shopping for meats it is important to look for grass fed beef and free range poultry and eggs.  This is because meat from corn and grain fed animals contain pro-inflammatory fatty acids that can facilitate diabetes.   Nuts such as walnuts and almonds should be a regular part of your diet.  When shopping for grains, choose whole grains and rice.  Try glutin free options to further reduce inflammation such as brown rice flour.  Avoid continence foods that have an ingredient label a mile long.  You can make natural foods convenient too.  Throw some grapes in your freezer and you have a tasty snack.  Try organic, all natural peanut butter on 100% whole wheat bread with raisins and unsweetened coconut.  Add a touch of honey if you like.   On the weekend when you have more time, pre-cook several free-range chicken breasts to place atop a bed of lettuce with avocado slices and an oil and vinegar dressing.  Add additional fresh fruits, veggies, nuts, seeds, or spices to increase the flavor.  Be creative.  If you plan ahead it is not hard to have quick and healthy meals ready!  When shopping, don’t spend too much time in the middle aisles of the store.   That is where most processed and unhealthy foods are located.  Avoid hydrogenated oils, refined sugar, processed foods and sweets.  When buying packaged foods, be sure to read the label.  Choose items with few ingredients and make sure you know what they are.  If you have never heard of it avoid it.  Don’t deprive yourself of your favorite foods, just eat them in moderation.

Exercise

jogging momWhile most researchers and physicians focus on diet as the primary preventative tool for diabetes, it is important to note that exercise is also extremely beneficial.  One study conducted at the Cleveland Clinic and published in the “Annals of Nutrition & Metabolism,” showed that patients who exercise and change their diet reduce their risk for diabetes more than those who change their diet alone.  Another study conducted in Copenhagen showed that the anti-inflammatory effects of exercise have a positive effect on type 2 diabetes among other diseases.  Exercise has several positive effects that help to prevent and treat type 2 diabetes.

Diabetes Misconception

kiwiMany diabetics are fearful of eating fresh fruits.  Yes, fruits contain sugar, but they are natural sugars.  If you are not loading up on processed refined sugar, there is plenty of room in your diet for fresh fruits.   If you still have concerns about fruit and blood sugar levels, consume some protein with your fruit.  A hand full of nuts is a good protein option.  Fruits have many valuable anti-oxidants and vitamins that are good for your body.  Don’t deprive youself of this.  Instead cut back or eliminate unnatural refined sugars.

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A Lion’s Halloween

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Happy lion

Jack does such a great ROAR that we thought he’d make the cutest lion for Halloween.  We found a warm and comfy costume at Once Upon A Child for $6.  I was pleasantly surprised that he didn’t mind the Lion hood at all.

He dressed up for a Halloween picnic party at the park with his play group on Tuesday.  I had to draw a lion face on daddy in order to get Jack to sit still for his lion face.  Many moms brought yummy, festive treats to the party.  It was cute to see all of the kiddo’s dressed up on the playground.  We had planned to attend a Trunk or Treat at a patient’s church on wed but we were all pooped after a crazy day at work so we opted out.

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2 Lions

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Looking for a Cook (cookie)

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Having fun

Thursday was Trick or Treat in New Albany.  We went to the neighborhood of Mac, our business coach, and his family.  Jack tried to keep up with their 6 year old, Sophia but she was on a candy mission.  We walked around the neighborhood for a bit then helped Mac hand out candy.  Afterwards we went inside and warmed up by the fire with some tasty red wine.  Sophia enjoyed babysitting Jack in her play room.

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cutest lion

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Jack actually sat still for a group photo

Saturday, we made a spur of the moment call to my mom and learned it was Trick or Treat in my home town that night.  We decided to surprise my dad and drove up their way with Jack’s costume ready to go.  We figured he was such a cute lion we should show him off to as many family and friends as possible (yes, I’m a biased mom).  We let Jack walk up to Papa, waiting for trick or treaters.  He jumped with joy when he saw Jack in the driveway.  Jack did a great job helping Papa hand out candy.  Greg also enjoyed the experience since he grew up in the country and never had trick or treaters come to his door.   Mamma took lots of Jack photos and made us a yummy pumpkin pie – my favorite!

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Mamma keeps Jack out of the street

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Jack & Papa ready for the kids

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on Papa's AJ Hawk Chair

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A good helper

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Jack in the Pumpkin Patch

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Mommy steals a Kiss!

We took Jack to the pumpkin patch this year at Lynd’s Fruit Farm. Last year Jack was just 8 months so this was his first time exploring the pumpkin patch on foot. He was not interested in the pumpkins what so ever!!! He was interested in running in every direction as fast as he could. His body couldn’t keep up with his feet and he did a few nose dives into the ground but it didn’t seem to phase him one bit. Boys! He is really catching on how to ware mom and dad out as much as possible! I think we all got a good workout in at the pumpkin patch! We did come away with a nice pumpkin though, chose by mom and dad. You will see in the photos below, Jack running all over with not a glance at a pumpkin! He did have a good time!

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Running

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Running

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Rocks, more intereting than Pumpkins

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Can dad interest Jack in a Pumpkin?

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Checking out the Pumpkin

Later tonight (hopefully)… A Lion’s Halloween, stay tuned!

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