Posts from the “health + fitness” Category

ECO-MINDED PARENTS add this website to your resource list!


So, if you’ve read my blog, you might have noticed that I’m just a wee bit into the green scene. Pretty much every day – for work and for my family – I do loads of research on eco-lifestyle, sustainability, nature, social responsibility and environmental stewardship.

I collect data and ideas from all over the web, and sometimes in unexpected places. (Did you know, for example, that World Naked Gardening Day is coming up on May 2? I am not making this up. Now that’s some getting back to nature.)

But I also have favorite websites that I return to again and again for reliable, current info on a range of green topics. These sites are more than just collections of random trivia – they are true, bookmark-worthy resources.

Environmental Working Group is my go-to for “clean” shopping (especially grocery and personal products). Mother Nature Network delivers beautiful stories on the Earth, the animal kingdom, and the quirkiest animal of all – the human. And TreeHugger gives me a progressive design, tech, and scientific slant on the world.

Today, I came across a new resource website to add to my list: Healthy Child, Healthy World.

Healthy Child, Healthy World does the legwork for busy parents, wading through the sea of ever-changing scientific consensus. It also supports changes to our laws and our culture so that every kid, regardless of circumstance, can thrive. This site is perfect for both new and seasoned parents interested in a safer home base, greener choices, and healthier children everywhere.

Here is a smorgasbord of their topics and resources:

  • Have you noticed how having a new baby kicks everyone’s nesting instinct into high gear? Those home renovations will be great when they’re finished, but demo’d bathrooms and lead paint particles can expose everyone in the house to nasty chemicals. Do it all the safe way with this Healthy Home Renovations guide.
  • If you have kids, I guarantee you’ll have to wrangle at least a few head lice before they turn 18. Unfortunately, over-the-counter pesticide shampoos have been linked to asthma, allergies, even cancer. Instead, remove lice safely with natural essential oils, a lice comb, and some elbow grease.
  • Raise your hand if you ever use your car keys as an emergency toy and teething ring. Do not do this. Those keys can contain mass amounts lead, a well-known toxin. Get a “fake” (real wood) set of keys if your tot insists on chewing up the contents of your purse.
  • Are fake food dyes, preservatives and other additives really that bad? Yes, they really are. They are implicated in many pediatric behavioral and neurological issues. And you can avoid them by choosing more whole foods and fewer processed foods that harbor heinous food fillers.
  • HealthyChild even has a handy new e-book, Easy Steps to a Safer Pregnancy.  Because, after all, “…your baby’s first home isn’t her nursery or even your house. It’s your body.”


Makes you think, right?

Like all the info on this site, the goal is to empower you to make more educated choices.

Which may or may not include grabbing a shovel, polishing off your birthday suit, and getting “back to the garden” for World Naked Gardening Day.





SUPERBAD SUPERBUGS why it’s time to rethink antibiotics





“I’m sure glad I wasn’t born in the Stone Age, before antibiotics were discovered!”

That was my grandfather, who lived to be 95 but had his share of heart infections. Antibiotics saved his life….again and again and again.

Chances are you feel the same way, if you’re like four out of five Americans who have used antibiotics at least once this year. Since penicillin first hit the scene in the 40’s, antibiotics have been a godsend, revolutionizing the way we treat infection, save lives, and spare suffering.

But the trouble is, antibiotics just aren’t working anymore.

Bacteria are smart little buggers – they’re much more intelligent than we give them credit for. They are able to multiply rapidly, quickly evolve and adapt to their environment, and pass information on to future generations.

And now, it’s clear that bacteria are on to us. It didn’t take long for them to get wise to our antibacterial ways. They are quickly becoming resistant to our ever-expanding arsenal of targeted antibiotics.

Scientists can’t keep pace with these new uber bacteria, they can’t develop new drugs fast enough, and in the next decade common infections like strep throat could once again be lethal.

Hyperbole aside, most health and public policy experts agree that the world is hurtling head first into a major antibiotics crisis. According to a recent WHO report, “A post-antibiotic era – in which common infections and minor injuries can kill – far from being an apocalyptic fantasy, is instead a very real possibility for the 21st Century.”

This crisis is complex and multi-faceted, but the simple fact is antibiotics are overused and misused across the globe, which in turn is creating new strains of superbad superbugs.

  • Antibiotics are overused. The more antibiotics you take, the more likely you’ll be to develop a drug-resistant infection. That’s because, while the drugs kill most of the bacteria, the most naturally resistant ones are most likely to survive—and give rise to a whole new superbad generation. Doctors are writing millions of antibiotics prescriptions at the first sign of illness and patients demand them immediately, instead of first giving the body time to fight the infection. And did you know that antibiotics for humans only account for about 20% of the antibiotic use in this country? The other 80% is pumped into to livestock and food animals – mostly to promote growth, not to cure acute infections.
  • Antibiotics are misused. Antibiotics are great for acute cases of dangerous bacterial infections, but at least half of all prescriptions are handed out “just in case” or unnecessarily, as for the flu or other viral infections that don’t respond to antibiotics.  And most people use them the wrong way – taking them too often for the wrong kinds of infections, or taking weak doses for too short a duration.
  • Antibiotics don’t always target “bad” bacteria. In Go Probiotic, I talked about why your body needs certain types of bacteria to stay healthy. Your immune system, your digestion, your brain, your jaunty mood all depend on having adequate levels of “good” bacteria. But antibiotics often kill off the good guys as well as the infectious variety, leaving you seriously compromised.


So what can we do about this superbad situation?

Last week, we did get some encouraging news that new soil bacteria discoveries might lead to the development of new classes of antibiotics, and that’s great for the short-term.

But for the long term we must change the way we use antibiotics – both as individuals and as a society – if we want a sustainable answer to bacterial diseases.


Take action! Here’s what you can do right now to help turn the tide:




Ditch the antibacterial products. Don’t buy into the hype sold by Clorox, Purell, and their antibacterial bedfellows. You don’t need to kill every bug within a 5-mile radius of your kid or your kitchen. And you don’t need their chemical products – just a little soap and water will do. Remember that humans evolved surrounded by all kinds of bugs, and your immune system actually relies on stimulation to develop and function properly. Think of bacteria as microscopic personal trainers for your immune system, giving it  practice fighting off garden-variety illness and infection.

Just say no to antibiotics unless absolutely necessary. Did you know that many common infections don’t necessarily need to be treated with antibiotics? Sinus infection, bronchitis, ear infections  – just to name a few. Ask your doctor if you really need drugs for whatever is ailing you, or if it’s safe to wait and see. Be patient, give your body a bit of time to fight on its own. It’s not quick and it’s not sexy, but good old-fashioned rest, fluids – and maybe a little chicken soup – should be the first prescription you fill.

Try Pl-antibiotics. Plants are also a lot smarter than we give them credit for. They are naturally resistant to harmful bacteria, evolving constantly to defend themselves from new bacterial invaders. Herbs and plant alternatives to synthetic antibiotics have been used successfully for centuries all over the world, and with a little research, you can find a good pl-antibiotic. These should get you started:




Spread the word. Tell the federal government to limit the use of antibiotics in medicine, industry and farming. Learn more about the issue, sign a petition or two, tell a friend.

If we can slash the amount of antibiotics we all use, maybe – just maybe – we won’t have to say to our grandkids “I remember the good old days, when we had these things called antibiotics….”




In my last post, I fessed up to my chocolate fancy and shared my two favorite chocolate makers.

Besides being crazy yummy, both Pure7 and Righteously Raw feature ingredients that are minimally-processed, organic, fair trade and sustainable. Raw dark chocolate like this is actually good for you, improving your mood, cholesterol, and blood pressure and reducing your chances of developing chronic disease.

I got such an enthusiastic response from my fellow chocaholics, today I’m thinking outside the bar and adding a bonus “Part Two”….

Chocolate Fixes Beyond the Bar

Here are a few other delicious ways to get your daily cocoa:



Lily’s Baking Chips are slightly sweetened with stevia and erythritol instead of sugar, so their deep chocolate flavor really shines through. Add them to cookies, fudge, even to pancakes or your morning oatmeal.


Amazing Grass Kidz Superfood Chocolate  is a cocoa powder blended with fruits, veggies, and green superfoods. Added to your Kidzfavorite milk-ish beverage, it might not fool a die-hard Nesquik kid in a blind taste-test, but it sure is delicious. Make a cup for an afternoon snack, or toss it in the blender with a banana, some frozen blueberries, and a spoonful of almond butter.





Easy, home-made raw cacao “hot chocolate” This is my own personal recipe: mix 1 tbsp raw cacao powder, 1 tsp granulated coconut sugar and ½ tsp vanilla powder. Add to hot milk for a healthy alternative to store-bought cocoa mixes. Also tasty in a smoothie or added to coffee to make a mocha.




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Roasted cacao nibs. These are exactly what they sound like – lovely little niblets of cocoa beans. Their earthy, unadulterated flavor is great in cereals, muffins, and snack mixes. Add a handful to peanuts and dried blueberries, and – voila – instant energizing trail mix! Navitas Naturals is easy to find in most natural food stores.


What is your favorite chocolate delivery system?



RAW CHOCOLATE a square a day keeps the doctor away



If I were stranded on a deserted island and could only bring one item with me for all of eternity, chances are pretty good it would be chocolate.

My obsession with chocolate began when I was very young, with my first kiss.

My first Hershey’s Kiss, to be exact.

It was the early 70s – the apex of Betty Crocker nation – so the chocolate of my youth was overly-processed, mass-produced and chemically engineered. Most cocoa confections from that era were waxy, artificially colored, falsely flavored and enjoyed a shelf life of approximately three centuries.

But oh the clink of my grandpa’s glass candy jar as he reached in to grab me that Kiss. The crinkle of the wispy foil. The bite-size lump of loveliness. The melty lingering sweetness and joy.

That was love.

But I’m grown up now, and my palette isn’t the only thing that has become more discerning. I really care about everything that I eat, that my family eats…even the treats. We try to favor organic cookies and small-batch local gelato whenever possible.

And these days, we can even have our chocolate and eat it too!

Because chocolate is finally having a rebirth, a karmic retribution, a homecoming party. Everywhere you turn, the health benefits of dark chocolate are being regaled left and right.

Chocolate can:

  • Lower your blood pressure and cholesterol
  • Improve your cardiovascular health
  • Increase your insulin resistance, making you less likely to develop diabetes
  • Reduce your chance of many chronic diseases with its antioxidants
  • Boost your mood by increasing serotonin levels.

How sweet is that?

In the last few years there’s been a veritable explosion of artisan chocolatiers on the scene. But a taste test (or two, or ten) and a closer look at ingredients reveals that they’re not all created equal.

A lot of bars out there might taste delicious, but they aren’t all that healthy. Some of them are “all-natural” which sounds nice, but doesn’t mean much. Almost all of them are high in sugar and low in naturally-occurring nutrients that get lost in the processing. Dark chocolate is good, but raw, unrefined dark chocolate is even better. The only trick is that it can be hard to find.

A few months ago, I made it my mission to find a chocolate bar that is raw, organic, responsible, sustainable, minimally refined and criminally delicious.

So I sampled upwards of thirty of these new-fangled chocolate bars on the market.  In most cases, it was necessary to consume the entire bar to really confirm or deny my initial suspicions about the quality of the chocolate in question. I took it for the team, so to speak – sacrificing myself for the sake of science. It was painful and arduous, but after careful investigation and taste-bud saturation, I have found two bars that fit all of my criteria:

Screen shot 2014-09-11 at 9.56.16 PMPure7 Chocolate

What it is Smooth, elegant, rich. You’ll be an instant fan.
The truly inspiring backstory – Two foodie moms with a passion for healthy, gourmet, raw foods experiment in their kitchen to cook up a chocolate recipe that satisfies their sky-high standards of flavor, texture, healthiness, and sustainability. Pure7’s fan base grows so quickly, they can barely produce fast enough to meet demand. But they do…all while maintaining the quality and integrity of their core values and their chocolate.
Distinguishing features – Honey-sweetened, subtle and beautiful ingredients like Himalayan Pink Salt and cinnamon.
Go to When you crave a sweet but healthy treat.
My favorite flavors – Peppermint and Salty Almond.

Right now they have a tasty special – buy five bars of any flavor and get one free. That’s sweet too!


Screen shot 2014-09-11 at 9.57.26 PMRighteously Raw

What it is – Not your ordinary chocolate bar experience. But if you can suspend your expectations, you’ll find these bars righteously amazing. They have an array of textures and a distinct cacao flavor.
The truly inspiring backstory Breast cancer survivor passes along everything she knows about about high-frequency foods and how whole foods, consumed close to their natural state, can be healing. Her mission is to make superfoods accessible and delicious, educate the public, and collaborate with sustainable organizations across the globe.
Go to – When you’re in the mood for something a little sweet and a little snackier. When you want the sensation of eating food, not just candy.
My favorite flavors – Acai and Caramel

I could write a book about all the health benefits of chocolate, but really it comes down to this:

It just tastes so freaking good.

And since pleasure is healthy, I think chocolate should be re-classified as a medicine. Couldn’t we all use that sweet prescription?

Take two squares and call me in the morning.

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WHY ORGANICS COST MORE Hint: they don’t have to!

Organic food is more expensive than conventional food, right?

After all, the evidence is right there in your local produce aisle. Those organic strawberries could set you back almost twice as much as conventional ones.

But did you know that organic food doesn’t need to cost more?

And that there are hidden costs to those conventional berries?

The Farm Bill

There are many factors that raise the price of organic food,  and one of the biggest is unfair government farm subsidies.

The first Farm Bill program was introduced over 80 years ago as part of FDR’s Agricultural Adjustment Act to help Depression-era farmers. Times have changed since 1933, but the Farm Bill hasn’t changed much with the times – even with the passage of the 2014 iteration this past February.

Modern-day subsidies proponents argue that farmers need a government safety net because agriculture is a tough, unpredictable industry and the nation’s food supply is dependent on family farms staying in business.

But critics say too much of the money goes to wealthy farmers and corporate agribusinesses.

There are two major issues at play when it comes to farm subsidies and organic and healthy foods.

1 – Organic farmers only get about 1% of the Farm Bill subsidies. The allocation of Farm Bill funds doesn’t come close to reflecting what the American people want. Retail sales of organic food rose from around $3 billion in 1997 to a whopping $21.1 billion in 2008, according to the USDA. And 58 percent of Americans claim they prefer to eat organic over non-organic.

The demand for organics keeps rising as the public becomes more educated about the health risks of conventional food and farming. If organic farmers received a bigger slice of the subsidies pie, and more conventional farms began organic practices, together they could meet these rising demands. Organic food prices would drop, and more people would have access to foods free of pesticides, hormones, antibiotics and other chemicals.

2 – Conventional farms that produce “junk food” or non-food crops get the largest government handouts of all. Such “commodity crops” as wheat, GMO soybeans, cotton and corn are energy, water, and fertilizer intensive. And they’re are used mostly to produce meat, processed foods and ethanol.

According to CalPIRG’s “Apples to Twinkies” report, from 1995 to 2010 almost $17 billion tax dollars subsidized four common food additives: corn syrup, high fructose corn syrup, cornstarch, and hydrogenated soy oils. So our tax dollars are directly subsidizing junk food ingredients instead of nutritious fruits and vegetables, which get a tiny fraction of farm bill dollars.

Giving Organics a Boost

Demand for organics has never been higher, but our government continues to subsidize conventional crops.

The good news is that organic farmers, fruit growers and hemp producers all saw modest improvements with the 2014 Farm Bill.

It’s time to keep the momentum going. Time to bring the Farm Bill into the 21st century and give organic farming a bigger boost! Farm subsidies reform is a win-win for people and the Earth – healthier food and a healthier environment.

Take Action!  Two things you can do right now to boost the organic scene:

1 – Buy organic whenever possible. The higher the demand, the bigger the support for organic farming.

2 – Stay informed about farm subsidies and organics. Sign up for updates from the Organic Consumers Association and the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition. Listen to EarthScope Radio for timely environmental news. Watch some of the latest critically-acclaimed food documentaries. The next Farm Bill won’t get passed for a few years, but your local government has probably already started weighing in on it. If you know your stuff, you can contact your state rep, let your voice be heard…and be part of the change!










FAMILY DINNER a heaping helping of tips

Broken Bread

Paul Norwood “Broken Bread”

In my next few blogs, I’ll be addressing some of my readers’ most burning questions. First up, Dorlon and Dharma want to know:

What’s the deal with family dinner, anyway? Is it really as important as everyone insists? And how can we make it easier, healthier and more fun?

There’s a lot of hot debate and anecdote about the legendary “Family Dinner”. Eating meals together has been credited – for good reason – with big and long-term benefits like better communication and eating habits as well as lower risk of eating disorders, obesity, substance abuse, and depression.

But most experts agree: The important thing about it is the time spent together.

Everyone has to eat. So why not do it with as many family members as possible as often as you can?

Don’t feel guilty if you’re catching your meals on the fly (or in the car) right now. Just getting family dinners on your radar is the first step in the right direction. Then start creating the dinner routine that works for your family, almost like a recipe (hmmm…)


Take these main ingredients:

  • Eat together
  • Eat healthy
  • Limit distractions, particularly of the electronic variety.

Mix well. Use often. Add these ingredients as desired, for flavor and fun:

  • Cook together. Check out Cooking with Kids Foundation  for new recipes and ways to get kids to venture beyond the PBJ.
  • Spice up the conversation. Branch out from the standard “How was your day?” with some fresh discussion topics.
  • Create ritual. Laurie David’s The Family Dinner book  and the Family Eats  website are rich with recipes, shopping and prep tips, more sustainable choices, and activities to connect on a deeper level.
  • Immortalize Grannie’s meatball recipe.  The Family Cookbook Project gives you all the tools you need to collect family recipes, design and publish an original family heirloom cookbook.
  • Everyone contributes to the cleanup. Many hands make light work, plus giving kids opportunities to pitch in is actually good for them!


How do you do Dinner?



GO PROBIOTIC why bacteria can be good for you



Let’s have a quick round of free association.

If I say “bacteria”, what’s the first thing that comes to mind?

Going bad?

Getting sick?

It’s true that bacteria are responsible for sinus infections and Montezuma’s Revenge.

How about that scent under your pits on a hot summer day? Yep, you guessed it…bacteria.

But causing disease and decay is not all bacteria are good for. Like many things in life, they have a good side and a bad side.

Now, I’m not telling you to stop washing your hands or go play with a rabid squirrel. But lately we’ve gone overboard trying to avoid and destroy every germ we may come in contact with. We’ve vilified a whole class of micro-organisms when many of them are actually our friends.

It’s time for us to look at these no-see-ums a little differently.

You see, bacteria may not be sexy, but without them you’d be dead. Literally. There are ten times more bacterial cells than human cells in your body,  and most of them work hard to keep you healthy, alive and kicking.

What bacteria are good for

I started to make a list of all the reasons why we need these little buggers, when I stumbled upon this link to some of the more important ones.

In a nutshell, good bacteria can:

  • Improve our immune function.
  • Improve our digestion.
  • Help us harness energy and nutrients from our food
  • Edge out the bad bacteria that creep into our systems.
  • Reduce asthma and allergies.

There’s even a new theory that exposure to germs might helps us avoid Alzheimer’s.

How to get more good bacteria

I’ve been giving my kids probiotics since they were very young, so in my house we call good bacteria “happy bac.” Here are a few easy ways to increase the amount of happy bacteria in your life:

  • Eat PRObiotics every day. Take a daily supplement and eat more fermented foods like yogurt, unpasteurized cheese, and pickled veggies.
  • Reduce your intake of sugar and refined carbs. Turns out bad bacteria are as addicted to these as we are.
  • Eat more PREbiotics. Good germs like fruits and vegetables like bananas, leeks, artichokes and garlic.
  • Go easy on the anti-bacterial products. Turns out being anti-bacterial isn’t always the best thing for our health. Anti-bacterial products like hand sanitizers, dish soap, even toothpaste contain harmful chemicals like triclosan and pthalates, and can ultimately backfire by promoting the growth of  anti-bacterial-resistant strains of bacteria.

How do you get more beneficial bugs in your life?

ECO-TIP cleaner, greener personal care products


illustration: meghan hanson:

illustration: meghan hanson:

You are what you eat.

How many times have you heard that?

If your mom was like mine, the answer is probably “a lot”.

And here’s the thing: It’s actually pretty true.

Food (and the food-like substances that pass for food these days) really does have a huge impact on your health, your mood, your lifespan, and a whole host of other physiological processes.

But how many times have you heard this:

You are what you put on your body.

The average person uses a dozen personal care products every morning. Shampoo, conditioner, soap, face cream, sunscreen, makeup, toothpaste, mouthwash, body lotion, hair gel, shaving cream, and deodorant – and that’s just before breakfast!

Most of these products have hundreds of chemical ingredients that are untested, unregulated, and unsafe. They can do things like irritate your skin, mess up your hormones and damage your DNA.

So what you choose to put on your body affects you…and it affects the rest of life on Earth.

Think local.  We like to think of ourselves as these little separate, sealed off beings, but we’re not. Stuff is entering your porous and permeable body constantly. Your lungs take in your perfumes and powders. Your mouth absorbs your toothpaste. Your skin soaks up over half of what you slather on it.

Think global.  Your personal products really aren’t personal at all – they’re global. Because once you use them, they swirl down the drain or land in the garbage. They leach into our drinking water and our soil. They get into our flora and our fauna. And eventually they find their way back to – you guessed it – us.

So why not make healthier choices when you can?

Here are four simple things you can do right now:

1. Get to know your toxins … and then avoid them. Some of the more common ones are:

– Sulfates such as sodium lauryl sulfate, in soaps, shampoos and toothpaste
– Petrochemicals like mineral oil and petrolatum
– Parabens like methylparaben and propylparaben
Triclosan, found in antibacterial soaps, even toothpastes
– Chemical fragrances – stay away unless it specifies 100% natural origin

2. Bookmark the Environmental Working Group because you’ll come back to this site again and again. They have a sunscreen guide, a cosmetics database and many other indispensable consumer guides. Just enter the name of your favorite products and they’ll tell you instantly how safe it is.

3. Make your own. Go online to search for recipes. My all-time favorite site is Crunchy Betty. It has amazing DIY beauty and body recipes. Plus it’s just ridiculously fun to read.

4. Vote with your wallet. If you’re shopping in a conventional market or  drugstore, seek out the “greenest” options. They may not be perfect, but will  likely be free of famous toxins. If we consumers demand cleaner and greener options from mainstream companies, we can alter manufacturing practices, change trends and move mountains.

What are your favorite green products and recipes?




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THE SKINNY on Healthy Fats

During the low-fat craze of the 80s and 90s, the prevailing wisdom was that all fat is bad for the human body. As a result, food manufacturers fed the low-fat, no-fat movement, loading their wares with salt, corn syrup, chemicals and phony fats.

Ironically, since then the rates of diabetes and heart disease have continued to grow – along with the collective American waistline.

Scientists have been trying to figure out why our figures are expanding despite our efforts to eat “healthy”. We now know that all fats are not created equal, and a healthy body requires a healthy dose of healthy fat.

Turns out there are countless metabolic processes that depend on fat. Fat-soluble vitamins like A, D and E need fat to do their job. Over 70% of your gray matter is fat, so it’s critical for stabilizing mood, memory, and other brain functions. Fat can improve skin health, heart health and the immune system. It can help prevent diabetes by slowing absorption of sugars and refined carbs.

And moderate amounts of good fat can actually help you lose weight by supporting your metabolism, making your food taste better and helping you feel satisfied so you eat less.

The Good, The Fat and The Ugly

Repeat after me: “Fat is not the enemy.” The key is moderation, and choosing the right kinds of fat. Which can be tricky when you’re confronted with the alphabet soup of fat facts out there. CLA, GLA, ALA, EFA, saturated, unsaturated, trans-fats,  Omega 3 – what’s the skinny?

For detailed scoop, dig in to Real Food Digest’s in-depth discussion of the latest on dietary fats.

In the meantime, here’s the Cliffs Notes version:


  • Oils: flax, walnut, raw extra-virgin olive oil. For cooking, stick with extra light olive oil. The jury is still out on coconut oil so use in moderation.
  • Veggies: avocados, Brussels sprouts and green leafies like spinach and kale
  • Nuts: especially walnuts (high in Omega 3), macadamia nuts, almonds, pistachios and cashews
  • Seeds like flax, pumpkin, hemp, sunflower and sesame
  • Fish: especially salmon, albacore tuna, Alaskan halibut and sardines. Choose wild-caught or safely-farmed fish  to avoid mercury and other toxins.
  • Grass-fed  pastured meats, milk, butter, yogurt and eggs


Fast foods and processed foods are usually manufactured with cheap, unhealthy, chemically-altered fats. So your best bet is to eat fresh, whole foods from the “good” list, read package labels, and skip the fast food.

How do you get your good fat?





ECO-TIPS – get your outdoors on




There’s been a lot of buzz since Richard Louv coined the phrase “Nature Deficit Disorder” in his book Last Child in the Woods . Nature Deficit Disorder is a general term for the side effects – like anxiety, depression and obesity – of spending too little time in nature. And it’s not just kids that are suffering from NDD – adults are so plugged in to the virtual world these days, we’re missing out on the wonders of the natural world.

Humans are hard-wired to love nature – seeing it, smelling it, just being in it stimulates all our senses and gives us joy. And research shows nature’s therapeutic effects, lowering blood pressure, slashing stress and boosting immune function. Time we spend in nature even makes us more caring and compassionate. The more we get outdoors, the more we realize that our own health is intertwined with the health of our environment.

If you’re having a tough time “getting out more,” take a cue from Todd Christopher of Green Hour. He recommends a one-hour daily dose of outdoors for healthier, happier kids. But this prescription applies to all ages, so get out there and get your green on:

Screen shot 2013-03-13 at 1.26.00 PM


Hit the trails on two feet, or two wheels. Invest in items to up your adventure factor, like binoculars, books on local flora and fauna, or a handy nature app.

Take a dip in the nearest lake or ocean. Feel the sand between your toes. Smell the salt air. Collect shells and unique pebbles. Rinse, repeat.beach



Cultivate your green thumb. Start a garden with your favorite flowers, fruits and vegetables. Share your bounty with family and friends, or give back to Mother Nature by creating a National Wildlife Federation certified habitat  in your own backyard.


Rethink your vacation. Consider a day trip or vacation to one of 398 glorious National Parks



“Park” close to home... You don’t need an exotic destination to fill the nature prescription – any town park or playground with a decent patch of greenery will do.





…and “park” at home. Maximize your nature fix by bringing the outdoors in. Many beautiful indoor varieties of houseplants also detox the air. A windowsill herb garden is a snap to grow and maintain. And some choice ambient nature sounds can temporarily transform your home office or bedroom into soothing rainforest.

How do you get your green on?

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