Planet-friendly and practical, these 5 new baby must-haves for your newborn sweetheart are “Mom’s” latest favorites for outfitting a nursery.

Green Babies®
Just born! Green Babies™ body care products, including Baby Me Shampoo & Wash, Energizing Bubble Bath, Calming Bubble Bath, Smooth Me Detangler and Lotion Potion Moisturizer have now entered the world of fabulous eco-friendly care products for little ones. The new body care line is plant and fruit derived, vegan, hypo-allergenic and tear-free. Plus, everything smells delightful – leaving your baby smelling oh-so-sweet! Developed in the spirit that every baby is beautiful and deserves the best, safest and most irritant-free products that won’t break the budget, the products do not contain synthetic fragrances, dyes, sulfates, parabens or phthalates. The products are available at Whole Foods Markets throughout the Northeast, select specialty retail stores and online at www.greenbabies.com.

Delta Eco-Collection
Organize your child’s things in planet-friendly style! This unique nursery storage collection will help get rid of mommy guilt by helping the environment…and organizing the closets!

The Eco-Collection is the debut of Delta’s new storage/organization collection called S.O.S. (Store. Organize. Style). This eco-conscious collection uses 100% recycled cardboard and non-toxic inks, and is cute to boot! The 20 piece starter kit (available in pink, blue or green) retails for $40 and includes hangers, dividers, storage boxes and a hanging organizer. A true eco-mommy’s dream! Available at Wal-mart, making it a budget-conscious choice, as well.

Green to Grow®
Just the milk please; hold the chemicals! Green to Grow’s® range of BPA-free baby bottles includes bottles made from good, old fashioned glass and from PES plastic – a premium grade resin that has a denser molecular structure than other BPA-free plastics. PES outperforms other plastics because it is incredibly durable, heat resistant, and does not break down with repeated sterilization. With adorable designs on their bottles, sippy cups and stackables, this line is sure to be a family favorite!

Plus, Green to Grow® recently introduced Mellow™, which feature colic-relief nipples that are designed with an air vent built directly into the base of the nipple, allowing air to circulate into the bottle as baby feeds, equalizing pressure inside the bottle, and making it easier for baby to drink. With Mellow™, parents spend less time cleaning, assembling, (and even losing!) the many small pieces needed with other anti-colic systems, and more time loving and feeding their baby. The Mellow™ line is compatible with all Green to Grow® bottles for ease of use. Available online at www.greentogrow.com.

NurturMe

Bye-bye to heavy jars weighing down the diaper bag – hello to NurturMe! Convenient, healthy, and portable, NurturMe is the first and only certified-organic, all-natural, gluten-free baby food made from nutrient-rich, quick-dried fruits and vegetables. By quick-drying, rather than cooking, its ingredients, NurturMe preserves the vital nutrients and phytochemicals found in fruits and vegetables, making it one of the most natural and nutritious baby foods available.

Each pouch of NurturMe may be mixed with breast milk, whole milk, formula or water in any amount or combination, enabling feedings to be customized completely to baby and mother’s needs. Designed for children from the age of four months to four years, NurturMe may also be sprinkled into grains, homemade purees, yogurts, apple sauce and macaroni & cheese to give them a delicious and nutritious boost. Available in four wholesome, baby-favorite flavors—Plump Peas, Scrumptious Squash, Crisp Apples and Hearty Sweet Potatoes, NurturMe products contain no added salts, sugars, colors or preservatives and all the fruits and vegetables used in NurturMe are sourced from certified-organic U.S. farms. NurturMe products are available at www.nurturme.com.

LifeNest Sleeping System
Safe sleep for baby, peace of mind for mom and dad! Created by renowned ear, nose and throat pediatric surgeon specialist, Dr. Jose Bensoussan, UBIMED’s patented LifeNest Sleeping System was specifically designed to ensure the highest level of comfort and safety for your infant while they rest.

The LifeNest’s curved mesh hammock cradles the baby’s head, maintaining the recommended baby-on-back sleeping position while allowing unrestricted movements. The elevated breathable hammock permits the free circulation of air via the venting channels to help prevent overheating and enables the baby to breathe freely even if they accidentally turn on their tummy. A second hammock is also built into the tight fitting mattress cover (available in a full line of fashionable colors to compliment any nursery), reinforcing strength and safety and prevents mattress cover entrapment and strangulation risks. Additionally, the mesh hammock of the LifeNest allows liquids and mucus to pass through it, helping to prevent against smothering.

Intended to be used for babies from birth to 5 months of age, the LifeNest fits securely on any standard crib, and comes with a convenient travel case, as it is easily portable making it ideal for parent’s on-the-go.

The LifeNest Sleeping System is available for purchase online at www.lifenest.com and at select retailers nationwide for $149.99.

*Companies mentioned above generously provided samples and images for this article.*

Get beach ready in no time with these summer slimming tips from acclaimed national online coach, Valerie Orsoni! We say – why wait till summer!? Stay in shape all year long by incorporating these suggestions into your daily routine.

7 Summer Slimming Tips

GLOW + REDUCE APPETITE: Valerie recommends a Sobacha morning drink to fill up and make your skin look great! Instead of making your usual tea or coffee in the morning, just infuse a handful of roasted buckwheat and hot water, drink and after 5 min voila – glowing skin + your appetite curbed by 25%.

IRON TRICEPS: after the shower, while your skin is soaking up your moisturizer, do 50 push ups on the wall (wayeasier than push ups on the floor, less pressure on the wrists joints and very efficient to get iron biceps).

REDUCE APPETITE FASHIONABLY: wear a fine ribbon under your clothes when going to a party with a buffet. Tie it on your skin, not too tight just resting on your skin at your waist level. When you start eating and your tummy starts swelling you will realize what you might be doing mindless eating. This connection of stomach/brain will help reduce what you eat by at least 50%.

IN LINE AT STARBUCKS: While waiting in line (because there is always a line) alternate the following moves: contract your glutes (2 cheeks together then right/left), suck in your tummy as if youwanted to glue your abs to your spine, this will work your deep abs, the ones that make your tummy flat. A great way to work in isometrics without sweating it off at the gym.

PERKY BUST: from the Moulin Rouge dancers. Put hands in prayer position, palms together, fingers pointing up andpress/release palms (you will see your natural bra contract and lift) in an upward move towards ceiling, then come back down. 50 reps that can be done anywhere you are alone (restrooms, bedroom, office, in your car, etc…)

SIZE DOES MATTER: Europeans are thinner because the American portion sizes are at least twice as large. When out, order an appetizer size instead of entrée. Then you can have your dessert, which you share with your friend because the portion size of desserts is mind-blowing.

EAT BEFORE YOU EAT: Reduce appetite – eat a hard-boiled egg before heading out to aparty/dinner/buffet. The fat + protein will crush your fake, social hunger!

Traditional Pad Thai gets a rawsome makeover in this delicious raw and Vegan recipe, courtesy of national online coach Valerie Orsoni!

Raw Pad Thai

Ingredients

Sauce:
• 1 cup reduced-fat coconut milk
• 1/2 cup almond butter
• 1 teaspoon minced jalapeno
• 1 tablespoon minced ginger
• 2 tablespoons Nama Shoyu
• 1 teaspoon red miso paste
• 1 teaspoon minced garlic
• 2 teaspoons lime juice
• 2 teaspoons chopped dates, pitted
• 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper

Noodle base:
• 3 cups shredded daikon
• 1 cup shredded kale
• ½ cup julienned red pepper
• ½ cup grated carrot
• 1 scallion, bias cut
• 40 Thai basil leaves
• 2 teaspoons chopped cilantro

Garnish:
• Cucumber slices, bias cut
• ½ cup cherry tomatoes, cut in half
• 2/3 cup chopped Teriyaki almonds
• Mesclun mixed greens, for serving (optional)

Preparation

1. To prepare the sauce, place all the ingredients in a blender. Blend on high until the mixture becomes creamy and smooth. Taste, and adjust flavors if necessary.
2. Ten minutes or so before serving, dress the noodles: place all of the prepared vegetables front the noodle base into a large bowl and toss with the prepared sauce. If you haven’t already prepared your garnish, do this while the noodles are marinating in the sauce.
3. Fan out three of the bias-cut cucumbers on the edge of each plate, and if using Mesclun, garnish the other side of the plate with the greens. Place the Pad Thaï mixture in the center of each plate, and top with halved cherry tomatoes and chopped teriyaki almonds.
4. Serve immediately!

*Recipe and image courtesy of Valerie Orsoni, of www.LeBootCamp.com.*

What’s a young, magical girl to do when she gets her first period? When should a werewolf start shaving her legs? Whether or not she has magical powers, what’s a girl to do when she–gasp!–has to talk to a boy she likes?

Never fear: The Magical Girl’s Guide to Womanhood answers these and many more questions for tweens and teens. Your guide on this enchanted quest into the labyrinth of yourself is gifted witch Violetta Marmalade-Spirit. Violetta starts with the basics of what makes a girl a girl, then progresses to questions of body image, how to stay healthy, and sexuality.

Becoming a young woman is always a magical journey. Join Violetta in uncovering some of the tips, tricks, myths and secrets to making the best journey possible!

“Keeping Your Body Healthy and Feeling Great” – An Excerpt from The Magical Girls’ Guide to Womanhood by Erin Schmidt and Violetta Marmalade-Spirit.

As you become a woman, there will be times when you won’t feel so good. Your hormones will act up, making you feel sad or angry. At other times, you may be tempted to compare your body to the bodies of other girls you know, or to images you see on television and in magazines. Those comparisons might make you feel as if you’re not developing fast enough, or too fast. Or, you might not like what you see when you look in the mirror. It takes some girls a long time to become confident in their appearance or in their talents and abilities.

Remember, no one is perfect. Everyone has flaws, even if they’re not obvious. But we all have good things about us, too.

If you ever feel overwhelmed by your emotions, make sure you have someone you trust to talk to. An older sister or other family member may be able to help guide you through the tougher times.

To look and feel your best every day, there are some simple steps you can take. We talked about taking a bath or shower with soap every day. Keeping your hair, skin and fingernails clean will help you feel good about yourself. Get enough sleep every night. You should also try to eat a healthy variety of foods and to get enough exercise in order to help your body perform at its best.

A school nurse, dietician, or other health professional can give you the best advice on what kinds of things you should be eating. In general, though, it’s a good idea to eat as many fresh fruits and vegetables as you can. It’s also important to have proteins (such as almonds, lean meats, fish, and tofu) and whole grains (which can be found in certain cereals, breads, and pastas). To get enough calcium for your growing bones, try low-fat yogurt or milk. Try to limit the amount of junk food you eat and the amount of soda you drink. When you get thirsty, drink water. Your body needs it anyway….

If you’re concerned about being too thin or overweight, you can check with your family doctor and find out how to maintain a healthy weight. Making healthier food choices is one good way to keep your body healthy. Another important factor is exercise.

There are many benefits to exercise. Not only does it help you maintain a healthy weight, but it also strengthens your heart, lungs, muscles, and bones. It can also help you fight the effects of those hormones that make you feel bad! Exercise boosts your mood, relieves stress, and makes you feel better about yourself.

Try to get at least one hour of exercise a day. There are many ways to reach that goal: playing on a sports team, walking, jogging, riding your bike, Rollerblading, following along with an exercise video, or chasing your tail (if you have one). Even walking around the mall with your friends or walking the dog counts as exercise. So do dancing around your room to music, weeding the garden, and even vacuuming. The important thing is get your body up and moving. Anything that gets your heart pumping hard counts….

If you are a vampire, you’ll need to do all of your exercise inside or at night; sunlight is very bad for your body. If you are a mermaid, as long as you stay in the water, you’re probably getting enough exercise just from swimming.

Just as important as eating healthy food and getting enough exercise and rest is staying away from substances that can hurt your body. Although you may be very curious about their effects, avoid the temptation to try smoking or using alcohol or other drugs. Smoking, drinking alcohol and using drugs all have negative effects on your heart, lungs, and brain. You want your body to be healthy and your mind to be alert. It can be difficult to say no to these things when your friends are trying them, but you must make decisions about your body for yourself. Show your body respect by doing things that are good for it.

Two basic ingredients, oranges and fennel, meld together so nicely in this simple salad, courtesy of Cooking Vacations!

Orange & Fennel Salad

Ingredients

2-3 oranges peeled, pits removed and cut into thin slices
2 bulbs of fennel, washed and sliced thin
3 tablespoons Extra Virgin first-cold pressed olive oil
Sea salt to taste
Parsley for garnishing

Preparation

Peel, slice into very thin discs and then cut them in half (so they are half circles), and arrange the orange slices on a serving platter. Wash the fennel. Slice into thin slices and layer over the oranges. Continue layering between oranges and fennel drizzling the olive oil and a little sea salt each time. Garnish with fresh chopped parsley and serve at room temp.

Serves 4.

*Recipe courtesy of Cooking Vacations.*

A Modern Take on Bartering to Stretch Your Budget

In the past, a traditional family had a father going out and earning a living to support his household while the mother remained home to care for the home and the needs of the family. In today’s world, however, a family can have the traditional father and mother, a single parent of either gender, or two parents who are the same gender. One thing that hasn’t really changed throughout the years is the need to save money whenever possible, especially if there is only one parent working. The good news is that, with a little creativity and careful management, having a full time homemaker in the family doesn’t have to put as much of a strain on the budget as you might think. While it does tend to be a lost art, bartering can help a long way towards stretching a budget.

Taking Inventory of What You Can Offer

When it comes to the art of bartering, especially if you’re using bartering as a method of acquiring what you need to run your household, it’s vital that you take complete stock of what you have to offer to negotiate for what you need. For example, you may love to bake pies, cookies and cakes, but this takes sugar and flour and other ingredients. You might have neighbors and friends who love your baked goods but they hate to bake. The logical thing to do is to offer to bake for these people in exchange for them buying the ingredients. Since it doesn’t take an entire bag or sugar or flour to make one cake, pie or batch of cookies, you have an ample supply for your household. This is bartering to exchange your services for someone else’s goods.

Prioritize

Prioritizing is determining what your needs are and what your desires or luxuries might be. This might seem like a daunting task but, when you give it a little thought, you’ll find that a lot of the things you consider important are actually luxuries. Once you’ve mastered the basics of bartering, you might be surprised to see how easy it is to acquire a few of the luxuries. One of the beauties of the bartering system is that everyone’s priorities tend to vary depending on their situation. A good example of this would be someone whose children have outgrown their clothing, but they may be in need of some other items. If you have easy access to those items, but your children need some new clothes, then you have an easy trade.

Don’t Be Afraid to be a Minor Pack Rat

It’s important to remember that if you’re bartering, you never know when something you no longer need can be traded for something you do. A good rule of thumb is that if something has is not worn out then you should keep it, because someone else might be able to use it. There are also free cycling groups that you can check out. These groups are not really about bartering, but more about gifting. They simply offer up something they no longer want and it can be claimed by anyone who may have a need for it.

In Closing

If you’re truly committed to being a full-time homemaker and you are willing to be creative and think outside of the box, then it’s not hard to be successful when it comes to bartering. Remember to take inventory of what you can offer, prioritize, and free cycle what you don’t need. Bartering might seem like a new and scary proposition, but people have been bartering long before money ever existed.

About the Author

Emma Martin is an avid garage sale fan, regularly scouring her city for unique finds and great deals. Weirdest thing she ever bought at a yard sale: a dinner plate with George W. Bush’s picture covering it. She is a content contributor for Yard Sale Search.

*Image courtesy of photostock / FreeDigitalPhotos.net.*

This mostly raw, Vegan smoothie is a chocolate lover’s dream – without all of the artificial ingredients! Nothing but chocolatey-goodness!

(Mostly) Raw Chocolate Smoothie

Ingredients

1 cup almond or soy milk (raw almond milk can be made! use this recipe: http://bit.ly/lY69I1)

2 medium bananas

2 tbsp raw almond butter (peanut butter will work)

1+ tbsp raw cocoa powder (add more for a more chocolate-y flavor)

1 tbsp raw agave nectar

1 cup ice cubes

Preparation

Blend the first five ingredients in a blender until smooth, then add the ice and repeat.

*Recipe courtesy of Samuel J. Hartman, and image courtesy of tofuttibreak.*

About Samuel J. Hartman

Samuel J. Hartman is an avid vegan and activist living in Louisville, KY. He runs thenailthatsticksup.com, a blog about people and ideas trying to make a difference in the world. He is passionate about music, exercise, and sustainable living. Reach him at [email protected], or on twitter at @TNTSU.

Healthy Summer Nutrition Tips from Funky Monkey Snacks

1. Get Your Fill of Water. Hydration is critical, especially in the southern states where the sudden transition from air conditioning to high heat can shock the body. To help avoid muscle cramps and headaches—and to nourish skin—drink plenty of liquids, especially water. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition outlines the following choices along with the maximum recommended daily eight-ounce servings: water (9 for women, 13 for men), unsweetened tea (8), unsweetened coffee (4), diet sodas and calorie-free beverages (4), skim or low-fat milk (2), 100% fruit juices, whole milk, or sports drinks (1), soft drinks or juice drinks (1).

2. Find a Farmer. There isn’t a better time of year to visit local farmers markets where an amazing array of healthy produce awaits. Many vegetables are high in nutrients and fiber—kale, chard, and mustard greens offer Vitamins C and E, which are good for eyes strained by the sun. Potassium-rich potatoes and spinach help avoid muscle cramps as well. Try putting vegetables on the backyard grill along with your main course for a special treat.

3. Up Your Fruit Quotient. The sun can wreak havoc on skin during outdoor activities. To nourish skin, complement your increased water intake with fresh fruit like raspberries, blueberries, and strawberries, all of which have antioxidants and vitamin C. Bananas are also good sources of potassium; make smoothies or fruit kabobs to add variety. Freeze-dried Funky Monkey™ Snacks are also a good fruit alternative—crunchy, bite-sized 100% real fruit snacks that are nutritionally equivalent to their fresh fruit counterparts and made with bananas, pineapples, apples, papaya, raisins, and açai.

4. Lighter is Better. Eating smaller meals more often is always a good idea, but especially in summer when people tend to miss eating at meal times or are suddenly presented with a picnic or party smorgasbord. Lighter fare is also a good way to get nutrients without excessive calories—make gazpacho or other cold soups, and try BBQ alternatives like turkey or skinless, marinated chicken. Chili is another convenient and fun summertime entrée; make a potful in advance, using nutrient-rich chicken or vegetables, so it’s on hand when no one feels like cooking.

5. Go Fishing. Fish, along with lean meats, beans, chickpeas, and soy products, are all high in protein, making them great not only for muscle development, but also to help hair that is overcome by exposure to sunlight and saltwater. Grill fish for a great summertime meal—and while you’re at it, up your consumption of eggs, another important source of protein.

6. Limit High Calorie Treats. It’s easy to make ice cream a habit during warm weather, but ice cream, not to mention cookies, popsicles, pies and fried desserts, can add fat and calories much faster than increased summertime activity can work off. Newer low-fat versions of ice cream or sorbet are better-tasting than ever; another alternative is to eat a healthy meal and then plan an after-dinner diversion to take everyone’s mind off big desserts.

7. Think About the Kids. Erratic eating can be especially hard on children during the summer—and their demand for treats can ruin anyone’s commitment to good nutrition. Try to maintain a regular meal schedule as much as possible, and keep only healthy snacks in the house, so no one is tempted. Having healthy snacks in the car at all times also helps when kids suddenly start complaining. Funky Monkey Snacks are easy to carry and better for kids than dried fruit or fruit snacks (dried fruit does not preserve all the nutrients of fresh fruit, and fruit snacks often contain added sugars, colors, flavors and preservatives.)

*Image and article courtesy of Funky Monkey Snacks.*

It only takes 6 ingredients, a food processor and a freezer to make this creamy Raw Banana Ice Cream, courtesy of Chef Eric Tochterman!

Raw Banana Ice Cream

Ingredients

4 cups of Bananas
2 TBSP Raw Honey
2 TBSP Extra Virgin Coconut Oil
1 tsp Ground Cinnamon
1 tsp Vanilla Extract
20 Dates
2 TBSP Cacao Nibs

Preparation

1. Put dates into a medium bowl, cover with lukewarm water and set aside to let soak for 10 minutes. Drain dates and reserve soaking liquid.
2.In a food processor, purée dates with 3 to 4 tablespoons of the soaking liquid, honey, oil, vanilla and cinnamon until smooth. (Discard remaining soaking liquid).
3. Add bananas and purée again until almost smooth. Transfer to a stainless steel bowl and stir in cacao nibs.
4. Cover and freeze, stirring occasionally, until almost solid, 4 to 6 hours. Let ice cream soften a bit at room temperature before serving.

*Recipe and image courtesy of Replenish Retreat.*

About Chef Eric Tochterman

Eric’s culinary career began in Pennsylvania where he graduated from The Philadelphia Restaurant School in 1993. Prior to graduating Eric trained in France for a brief period and then went on to immediately hone his skills as a chef at the prestigious Golf Club in Malvern, Pennsylvania. Throughout the following decade Eric further developed his techniques as a chef by creating menus and working as a TV Food Stylist for QVC and The Discovery Channel. He has now worked for over 15 years in studio kitchens and on remote location broadcasting shows with a live studio audience.

In 2003, Eric accepted an offer to run the Broadcast Kitchen for HSN and the sister network Americas Store, (AS). Eric went on to become the Culinary Supervisor, in charge of the culinary staff and food stylists. Eric managed all cooking programming for both 24/7 live networks. He has worked with dozens of celebrity chefs including: Wolfgang Puck, Roy Yamaguchi, Todd English, and Gordon Ramsay.

Eric has a passion for food and as the Head Chef for Replenish he is dedicated to bringing life to his culinary art. Eric intends to use his experience in the kitchen and on the stage to demonstrate the art of cooking for healthy living. In addition to his role at Replenish, he continues to cater parties, work as a Network Food Stylist and work on the completion of his long awaited cookbook! Eric lives in Clearwater Florida with his beautiful wife of 6 years, Sharon, and their son Finn.

How to Reduce Your Pet’s Carbon Paw-Print

You wouldn’t think that a dog or cat could contribute that much to the degradation of the environment, but you might be surprised how much waste and pollution is associated with owning a pet. Certainly they don’t harm the environment to the same degree that humans do, but they eat processed foods (with manufactured packaging), they require heat and air conditioning, and even electric a Petsafe wireless fence in some cases. And then there is the huge number of plastic bags used every year for the disposal of pet waste. So if you’re looking to reduce your pet’s carbon paw-print as you find ways to embrace a greener lifestyle, here are some ways to do it.

The easiest place to start is with food. Most pet food is not actually that good for your pet to begin with. The main ingredient in the majority of dry kibble is corn, which is a filler that is largely devoid of nutritional value to your animal. And since there is as yet no approved organic pet food on the market, you’re better off skipping the manufactured foods and opting to make your own. Your vet can advise you as to what needs to be included in your pet’s diet; it will vary by animal, but it generally includes cooked meats and whole grains mixed with fruits and vegetables. You’ll probably have to give a daily vitamin, as well, to ensure that they’re receiving all the proper nutrients. The only problem here is dental care, since soft foods will become lodged in your pet’s teeth and lead to faster decay.

Another interesting idea is to compost your pet’s waste. This comes with an urgent disclaimer, though: you CANNOT, under any circumstances, use it in your garden! Domesticated animal waste is toxic to humans, so you should keep it far, far away from your fruit, veggies, and other edible plants. However, it’s not so bad if it seeps into the soil near your flower beds. You can safely compost by the following method: dig a hole in the ground that is large enough to place a plastic garbage bin in. Drill several holes in the side of the bin and put it in the ground, then place rocks or gravel in the bottom for drainage. Keep it covered at all times with the lid (it should be slightly above ground level). Place dog, cat, or other waste inside and add some water and septic starter (found at hardware stores). The waste will begin to break down and seep into the soil, greatly reducing not only the amount of waste in the trash, but also the number of plastic bags. You may also be able to train cats to use the toilet.

You can also reduce water waste by using a foaming, waterless shampoo (generally made from natural oils that are non-toxic to your pet), buy eco-friendly pet toys (like hemp rope, toys made from recycled plastic, and balls composed of non-toxic materials), and use ceramic food bowls instead of plastic ones (which may contain harmful BPAs and are almost certainly manufactured in a high-waste, high-pollution facility). In short, there are dozens of ways to reduce your pet’s carbon paw-print, and most of them will also improve the health of your best friend.