Leafy Greens Book CoverLow in fat, high in protein and vitamins, these burgers are gluten free and guilt free. You can serve them on buns or over pasta or grains.

Spinach Burgers

Ingredients

3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
½ cup finely diced onion
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 cups packed chopped spinach
1 (15-ounce) can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
½ cup cooked white or brown rice
Salt and pepper

Preparation

In a large sauté pan or skillet over medium heat, warm 1 tablespoon of the oil until it shimmers. Add the onion and cook until translucent, about 2 minutes. Toss in the garlic and cook for 30 seconds. Add the spinach and cook until wilted, about 3 minutes. In a food processor, mix together the spinach mixture and beans, pulsing until well combined. Scrape out into a large bowl, mix with the rice, and season with salt and pepper to taste. Divide the mixture into 4 patties. Heat the remaining 2 tablespoons oil in a medium sauté pan or skillet and cook the patties until they begin to brown, then flip to brown the other side, about 4 minutes per side.

*Recipe and book cover courtesy of “The Leafy Greens Cookbook.”

Baby Girl5 Tips to Help You Go Green With Your Newborn

Like your parents, grandparents, and countless generations that have gone before, you are probably wondering if now is a good time to bring a child into the world. Our grandparents had to contend with the effects of WWII and the atomic bomb, while our parents were the first generation to openly question the direction that our government was steering our country thanks to the horrors of the Vietnam War. These days we’ve got internet predators, international terrorist organizations, and global warming to contend with. And each generation thinks they’ve got it worse than the one before. But humanity prevails, one way or another, so eventually you’re probably going to move ahead with your plans to start a family. While there’s little you can do about the societal integration of the internet, since it will no doubt be a major part of your child’s life, and terrorists are beyond your scope of influence, you can assuage at least one concern by adopting greener lifestyle practices that will help to create a brighter future for the planet and your child. Here are a few tips to help you go green on behalf of your baby.

  1. BPA-free bottles. This toxin is present in many modern plastics, including some bottles. So if you plan to bottle-feed your infant at all, either with formula or expressed breast milk, make sure that you get BPA-free baby bottles. You can stop your child from ingesting this known carcinogen by simply reading labels and choosing products that are made specifically without BPA.
  2. No-VOC paint. Most people know that it’s bad to breathe in paint fumes, which is why you air out a freshly-painted room until the smell is gone. What you might not know is that the volatile organic compounds (VOCs) found in most paint products can hang around, polluting your interior air, for years to come. And while the levels are low, these toxins have been linked to issues as diverse as headache, nausea, neurological disorders, and cancer. So your best bet is to avoid them completely by selecting paint options that contain low or no VOCs when you paint the nursery and other areas of your home.
  3. Organic linens. There are dozens of chemicals used in the production of clothing, mattresses, sheets, towels, curtains, and literally any textile you might bring into your home. Since babies are more sensitive to these substances, exposure could lead to rashes, allergies, and even asthma. So consider outfitting your nursery with all-organic textiles to prevent such issues. You can even find organic carpeting for baby to crawl on!
  4. Green cleaners. Natural cleaning solvents may not pack the same punch as the chemical variety, but with ingredients like lemon juice, vinegar, olive oil, and baking soda you can be fairly certain that they’re not going to harm your curious tot. As a bonus, you can make your own concoctions with items commonly found in the home to save on money and manufacturing. Simply look online for a wide variety of easy recipes.
  5. Organic food. Many expectant mothers are torn on issues concerning pregnancy, childbirth, and childrearing, such as whether or not to exercise during pregnancy or donate cord blood to a New York or California cryobank. And the decision to switch to organic foods is a big one many moms-to-be. But you should know that organic produce lacks the pesticides and fertilizers found in your average fare, while organic animal products come without hormones and antibiotics. Since the foods you consume get passed along to your fetus and later your infant, it’s definitely something you’ll want to consider.

 

Pineapple Mango chickenThis fruit-inspired dish is reminiscent of the tropics, and with just 4 ingredients, it is a breeze to make!

Pineapple Mango Chicken 

Ingredients 

1 lb of Chicken tenders (“Mom” prefers organic)
 
1 cup of small cubed Pineapple or Pineapple tidbits
 
1 cup of diced Mango

1/4 cup of Guy Parker’s BBQ Sauce and Marinade
 
Preparation
 
Place chicken tenders in a skillet with just a little water, pour Guy Parker’s BBQ Sauce over the chicken tenders and saute on both sides at medium high until done. Cut the tenders into 1 inch size pieces and add the Pineapple and Mango and stir until all of the fruit is hot. You may add more sauce, if you like more spice than sweetness.

BabyGanics Mineral SunscreenHeading outside with little ones in tow this summer means proper sun protection is top priority! “Mom” is loving the new Baby Pure Mineral Moisturizing Sunscreen Lotion 30+SPF from BabyGanics – a super smooth formula that is safe for your children as well as the environment! Simply toss this lotion in your beach bag and let the fun in the sun begin! At “Mom’s” house, that means swinging on the swings in the backyard and spending many hours poolside.

The newest offering from BabyGanics, Baby Pure Mineral Moisturizing Sunscreen Lotion 30+SPF not only protects your children against the harsh broad spectrum UVA/UVB rays of summertime but also moisturizes their tender skin. Pediatrician and Dermatologist tested and approved, this mineral based lotion retains its waterproof and SPF qualities for up to 80 minutes – even after all the fun outdoors in the backyard, at the beach or poolside! Plus, the new lotion does not contain PABA, Parabens, Sulfates, Phthalates, Nano-Particles or Fragrances.

Super simple to apply, this lotion is the best in targeting all of the key areas of protection. Baby Pure Mineral Moisturizing Sunscreen Lotion 30+SPF is available in a 4oz. tube can be purchased at Babies R Us, Buy Buy Baby, Babiesrus.com and Diapers.com.

*Company generously provided samples and images for this piece.*

Dad & DaughterAny Dude Can Father a Child but it Takes a Real Man to be a Dad  

Yesterday may have presented a dad disengaged from parenting or bumbling at best, but noted parent educator, Annie Fox, says today’s New Dad is happily engaged in the process and essential in the emotional development of his children.
 
“The number one objective is to raise a young adult who’s got a strong sense of self and cares about the needs of others. That’s the end game,” says Annie Fox, M.Ed. “Today’s New Dad provides counterpoint to the helicopter and Velcro parenting we’ve seen in recent years.”
 
With an international following, and blending wit and wisdom into speaking engagements, Facebook posts, tweets, books and her blog, Ms. Fox offers a few parenting tips this year for Dads:

Model respect and empathy starting with mom – married or divorced – when parents show mutual respect children learn to treat other people with kindness. 

Get silly and play – unstructured fun when kids take the lead and it’s ok to get messy, empowers children and fosters positive family connections.

Show your squishy side – Macho men need not apply, showing vulnerability helps children, especially boys, understand that feelings are a cool part of being human.
 
A dad’s role begins at birth and research from University of Oxford found that infants whose fathers were strongly engaged with them at three months old had fewer behavioral problems at one year.
 
“More dads are stepping up with greater confidence in their unique and essential role in helping kids become young people of good character,” says Annie.
 
Her most recent book, Teaching Kids to be Good People, is the latest addition to a collection of apps and books available for both parents and children. To read her Father’s Day blog click here.

*Image courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.*

3Strands ImageWhat’s hot this summer in eco-style? 3 Strands Global! The woven, fashionable bracelets not only complete your summery, boho beach chic look, but they convey a deeper message – one of freedom, love and empowerment!

3Strands Global is an eco-friendly fashion brand created in 2012 working to fight human trafficking around the world. With the sale of every 3Strands handmade bracelet and gift box, money is raised to help empower, teach and employ young women who have been rescued from the evils of human trafficking.  Profits from 3Strands helps to support organizations like Agape International Mission (AIM), based in Cambodia, that help to rescue and restore these young victims.
 
3Strands bracelets are handmade by rescued young women in Cambodia. The bracelets are made from wax-cotton cord that is dyed with eco-friendly chemicals and materials for treatment, processing, coloring and finishing.

3Strands Symbol

The woven bracelets each feature a signature 3Strands metal closure with the words “freedom, love and empowerment” appearing on the closure made to purposefully remind the wearer of the trafficking survivor who made it. The incorporation of a single red string, barely visible inside the center of each bracelet, illustrates the souls of these women and how they are practically invisible to those who have bought and sold them in the past.

Every bracelet displays one fragile, red seed from the pods of Sandalwood trees, native to Cambodia. The discovery of seeds from the native Sandalwood tree were literally underfoot.  From this litter of dry, colorless pods, the women select a fragile red seed to include in each bracelet they make.  The natural beauty of this glossy, recycled, scarlet seed represents the beauty in each of the women who have been freed and empowered with a hope for the future.

Mom” is loving the bracelets she received from 3Strands Global. Reminscent of the friendship bracelets worn when she was young, these handmade bracelets make you feel proud to wear one, knowing the story behind them. What a wonderful fashion statement to make!

To learn more about 3Strands Global, please visit 3StrandsGlobal.com.

*Company generously provided samples and images for this piece.*

Rosemary-Lime Wild Alaska Salmon KebabsTips on Buying Wild Salmon

Salmon is good tasting and good for you—rich in omega-3s and a good source of protein. Want to know how to find the best available? Here are hints on how from Keith Harris, the Whole Foods Market Port Buyer based in Alaska below.

• King (chinook) salmon is the most highly sought-after of all the salmon due to its high omega-3 content and full flavor. King comes in many shades of orange to red; all are delicious!
• Sockeye reds have a bright red color and extra-firm texture. The best sockeye comes from Alaska.
• Coho (silver salmon) has a milder flavor so it’s a good choice for kids. Coho’s also great for grilling.
• How the fish was caught affects how it tastes. Try to buy troll-caught salmon; each fish is handled individually. Trollers care about the environment and take great pride in what they deliver.
• In general, avoid any salmon that shows signs of browning. Also, check for minimal bruising and firm flesh.
• Wild salmon populations are threatened in some parts of the world. Look for fish from Marine Stewardship Council–certified sources, or from fisheries that are green or yellow rated according to the Blue Ocean Institute or Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch program.

Salmon is delicious grilled, broiled, sautéed or poached. For inspiration, try this light recipe:

Rosemary-Lime Wild Alaska Salmon Kebabs

Ingredients
 
1 pound wild salmon fillets, cut into chunks
1 zucchini, cut into chunks
1 yellow bell pepper, cut into chunks
1 large red onion, cut into chunks
Sea salt and black pepper
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 tablespoon (about 2 small sprigs) chopped rosemary leaves
¹⁄³ cup extra-virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons lime juice
Wooden or bamboo skewers, soaked in water 10 minutes

Preparation
 
Place salmon, zucchini, bell pepper and onion in a shallow baking dish and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Whisk to­gether garlic, rosemary, olive oil and lime juice in a small bowl. Pour mixture over salmon and vegetables, toss and marinate 15 to 30 minutes. Preheat the grill or broiler. Skewer the salmon and vegetables, reserving marinade, and grill or broil 5 to 7 minutes, turning once, until salmon is cooked through and vegetables are tender. While cooking, boil the marinade in a small saucepan for 5 minutes. Drizzle over skewers and serve.

Serves 4.

Learn More

You can find further tips and recipes online at www.whole foodsmarket.com.

*Article courtesy of NAPS.*

Watermelon MixerTime to buy that delicious watermelon you’ve been dreaming about all winter for this fruity treat! Combined with blueberries, you’ve just added two servings of fruit to your family’s diet!

Melon Mixer

Ingredients

3oz of Cascade Ice Blueberry Watermelon
1oz club soda
Sliced watermelon (for garnish)
Fresh blueberries (for garnish)

Preparation
 
Start with 3oz of Cascade Ice Zero-Calorie Blueberry Watermelon. Then pour 1oz of club soda. Stir it a bit and add several slices of watermelon and blueberries for the final touch.

*Recipe and image courtesy of Cascade Ice.*

Cascade Ice Berry BlastHit the farmer’s market and pick out your kids’ favorite types of berries and apples to try the Berry Blast Smoothie recipe below! The recipe can be doubled or tripled, depending on how many you want to serve, and “Mom” discovered you can freeze the smoothie mixture in popsicle molds for a healthy mid-afternoon treat!

Berry Blast Smoothie

Ingredients
 
1 cup organic apple slices
3/4 cup cup Greek yogurt (“Mom” prefers organic)
1/2 cup soy or almond milk
1 handful fresh berries
4 oz Cascade Ice Zero-Calorie Huckleberry Blackberry

Preparation
 
Mix 1 cup of apple slices, 3/4 cup Greek yogurt, 1/2 cup soy or almond milk, a handful of fresh berries and 4oz Cascade Ice Zero-Calorie Huckleberry Blackberry in a blender. Blend until smooth and top with a few more fresh berries. Serve and enjoy!

Serves 1.

*Recipe and image courtesy of Cascade Ice.*

Home-LandscapingHow the Proper Landscape Design Can Cut Your Air Conditioning Costs

Landscaping can significantly reduce your air conditioning costs. As temperatures rise outdoors this summer so will the temperature inside your home. Strategically placing plants outside of your home can provide shade and natural cooling so that you don’t have to rely so heavily on your AC system. By investing in landscaping outside of your home to increase efficiency, you could see a return in less than 3 years. Specialists say that air conditioning is the number one way to increase your carbon footprint and it makes up a significant portion of your energy bill each month. Here are some ways on how the proper landscape design can cut your air conditioning costs.

Planting trees around your house in all directions, but especially on the south side where there is the most direct sunlight, can have a number of beneficial effects and can drastically cut your air conditioning costs. Most deciduous and evergreen trees go through a process called evapotranspiration, which means that they capture and release water vapor. This can, effectively, reduce the temperatures surrounding our homes creating a barrier of sorts from the heat. Moreover, not only do trees provide shade to your home, but they can also shield against warm winds and heat reflection.

Also, trellis vines planted early in the winter months can give enough time so that when the hottest months come around, your home is thickly covered. Vines can protect your home from heat in a number of ways. For one, the leaves in the vines absorb the sunlight for photosynthesis and not only will more leaves grow, but it will provide more shade for the home. Essentially, vines will fight to keep your home cool and protected from the elements all year round. Lower temperatures inside the home means that you have to rely less and less on air conditioner to beat the heat in the summertime. It is important, though, that you make sure that your house’s walls are strong enough to take the weight on the vines before you plant them.

If you choose to go with an outdoor air conditioning system and you plant a bush or shade-providing tree around the system you could greatly increase its efficiency, which will reflect positively on your next energy bill. Mitsubishi ductless systems has some incredible options that are not only energy efficient out of the box, but are some the very best on the market. It is important, though, to make sure that the tree or bush you plant around the air conditioning system won’t grow through it or damage it in anyway. In addition, planting some kind of shade-providing tree around your outdoor unit can also have a great aesthetic value as well.

Lastly, if you want to see the maximum efficiency for your landscape efforts, be sure to pay close attention to the way the light and wind moves around home during the day. Your landscaping options should take into account which side gets the most light and the most shade. By planting trees and plants more effectively you can increase efficiency and further reduce your air conditioning costs.