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Counselors at the California Teratogen Information Service (CTIS) Pregnancy Health Information Line, a non-profit based at the University of California, San Diego that aims to educate women about exposures during pregnancy and breastfeeding, have compiled a list of the most common holiday foods to avoid during pregnancy.

“It’s crucial we spread the word during this time of year, especially about avoiding alcohol in pregnancy,” said Dr. Christina Chambers, professor of pediatrics at UCSD and program director of CTIS Pregnancy Health Information Line. “In fact, it’s during this time of year when we receive the most number of calls from women who overindulged, found themselves pregnant and are now concerned about the amount of alcohol they consumed during the first few weeks of their unplanned pregnancies,” she added.

Fetal Health Experts List Top 10 Seasonal Foods To Avoid During Pregnancy

Counselors who provide California women answers to questions about exposures during pregnancy and lactation through a toll-free hotline (800) 532-3749, said many drinks and foods commonly served as appetizers or main courses during the holidays can lead to pregnancy problems, including:

1. Spiced Cider

Many spiced ciders will contain alcohol. Spiced wine is also a commonly served drink around the holidays. If you’re not sure if there is alcohol in what’s being served to you, just ask. Also, avoid those drinks that might contain wine, beer or liquor. “Drinking alcohol during pregnancy is a leading cause of mental retardation,” explained Laurel Prince, a CTIS teratogen information specialist.

2. Eggnog

Eggnog lattes are coming soon to a coffee shop near you, but so are punchbowls full of eggnog and brandy. It’s okay to enjoy the first (as long as it’s decaf), but make sure to avoid the second! Pasteurized eggnog can be a delicious treat, but alcohol should be avoided.

3. Rum Balls

Delicious? Yes. A good idea during pregnancy? No. Unfortunately rum balls actually do contain some alcohol. If craving chocolate, reach for something that doesn’t contain alcohol. “It’s great to indulge a little bit when it comes to chocolate,” explained Prince. “Just also be aware that chocolate contains caffeine and pregnant women shouldn’t consume more than 300mg of caffeine per day,” she added.

4. Soft Cheeses (Panela, Cotija, Queso Fresco, Blue-Veined Cheeses, Brie, Feta, Camembert)

Unless it’s labeled as “made with pasteurized milk,” it should be avoided. Unpasteurized milk can contain the bacteria listeria monocytogenes. This bacteria can cause listeriosis, an infection that can harm a developing baby and increase the risk of miscarriage, stillbirth, uterine infection, premature labor, and death in the newborn. To avoid this problem, make sure to look for the “made with pasteurized milk” label.

5. Hot Dogs and Luncheon Meats

Hot dogs and luncheon meats are also places listeria monocytogenes bacteria like to hang out. Make sure to reheat them until they are steaming hot. Otherwise, choose another delicious deli treat.

6. Pate

Refrigerated pates or meat spread can also cause listeriosis, so it’s best to avoid them during pregnancy. If you’re craving the spreading sensation, try peanut butter, almond butter or pasteurized cream cheese.

7. Imported Candies

Lead has been found in some consumer candies imported from Mexico. Lead has also been found in the wrappers of some imported candies. To be safe, stick to non-imported candies this holiday season. High levels of lead during pregnancy can cause low birth weight, premature delivery, miscarriage, and even stillbirth.

8. Undercooked Turkey & Ham

Food poisoning can affect everyone, including pregnant woman. Be sure that meat is cooked at the correct temperature for the correct amount of time. Using those meat thermometers will help do the trick! If you aren’t cooking the meat yourself, make sure you check with the chef to ensure its cooked all the way through.

9. Tuna

For all of you tuna tar-tar lovers, just remember the recommendation for fish consumption during pregnancy is no more than 12 oz. of large predator fish (tuna, shark, tilefish, king mackerel) per week since it contains methylmercury. In addition, large predator fish are more likely to contain higher amounts of methylmercury. High levels of methylmercury can lead to birth defects such as cerebral palsy, mental retardation, and blindness.

10. Smoked Seafood

Remember that pesky bacteria listeria monocytogenes that makes those delicious soft cheeses off-limits? It turns out it can live in smoked seafood too. Don’t eat refrigerated smoked meats unless they are ingredients in a dish that has been cooked, such as a casserole. Examples of refrigerated smoked seafood include salmon, trout, whitefish, cod, tuna, and mackerel, which are most often labeled as “nova-style,” “lox,” “kippered,” “smoked,” or “jerky.”

More information on the exposures mentioned can be found on www.CTISPregnancy.org.

CTIS Pregnancy Health Information Line is the California affiliate of OTIS, a North American non-profit dedicated to providing accurate evidence-based, clinical information to patients and health care professionals about exposures during pregnancy and lactation through its toll-free hotline and website, www.OTISPregnancy.org. Nearly 100,000 women seek information about birth defect prevention from OTIS and its affiliates every year.

Mom” at Tiny Green Mom is loving these link picks!

Set sail in these adorable Nutty Boats this Thanksgiving found on Disney FamilyFun! These make an excellent snow day activity!

Healthy and delicious! Harvest Corny Copias using Sun-Maid dried fruits are simple and fun to make.

Dandelion Winter Snowman Cuddlie is on sale on ecomom.com!

Harry Potter Fans Campaign for Social Change on Ecorazzi!

*Image courtesy of Sun-Maid.*

Uh oh! It’s that time of year for all of your favorite foods to make a grand appearance at the dinner table. For example, there’s probably a cameo from the buttered cornbread, intermission with fried turkey and a finale by the pumpkin pie. While these food items are symbols of holiday meals and time spent with loved ones, they can contribute to unhealthy eating habits.

Don’t Let the Holidays Weigh You Down

Authors: Stephanie Walsh, M.D., Medical Director, Child Wellness, Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta and Antonio Cain, Nutritionist, Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta

With the threatening epidemic of childhood obesity that the country is facing, forming healthy family habits is important. Family influence plays a strikingly large role in childhood obesity; in fact, children with an obese parent are 50 percent more likely to be obese themselves. Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta has listed some simple and fun ways to avoid holiday heaviness while keeping the whole family happy:

  • Leading up to the holidays, encourage your family to spend one less hour in front of the television and one more hour of physical activity per day to help offset the extra holiday calories consumed.
  • Eat a light, healthy snack before sitting down to a holiday meal to decrease your appetite and avoid overeating.
  • Serve water with your holiday meal instead of sugary beverages like lemonade, alcohol and sweet tea.
  • Provide fruit and vegetable platters as healthy alternatives to more fattening appetizers.
  • Encourage your family to fill at least half of their plates with fruits and vegetables. White meat turkey is also a great source of lean protein, so choose those pieces if possible.
  • Enjoy a family game of touch football instead of watching the games on television.
  • Take a family walk after your holiday meal as this will help you feel energized rather than lethargic.
  • Remember that parents serve as role models for their children, so make sure your actions are ones that you would want your children to follow.

Are you looking for some ways to incorporate a healthy new recipe into your traditional holiday feast? Try some dishes rich in antioxidants. Antioxidants are nutrients that can be found in our body to help repair tissue from “free radical” damage. Along with enhancing your immune system antioxidants also prevent against heart disease, macular degeneration, diabetes and cancer. The most common antioxidants are Vitamins A, C, and E which are found in many foods like green leafy vegetables, fruits, vegetable and liver oil, nuts and seeds.

Here is a simple recipe from Epicurious.com that may be a good way to add antioxidants to your holiday meals:

Kale with Garlic and Cranberries

Ingredients

  • 2 pounds kale (preferable Russian Red), stems and center ribs discarded and leaves coarsely torn
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 5 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries (2 ounces)

Instructions

Cook kale in a 6-quart pot of boiling salted water (1 1/2 tablespoons salt for 4 quarts water), uncovered, until almost tender, 5 to 7 minutes. Drain in a colander, then immediately transfer kale to an ice bath to stop cooking. When kale is cool, drain but do not squeeze.

Cook garlic in oil in same pot over medium heat, stirring, until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add kale, dried cranberries, 3/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/8 teaspoon pepper and cook, tossing frequently with tongs, until kale is heated through and tender, 4 to 6 minutes.

By incorporating more fitness into your days and antioxidants into your meals, you can enjoy the holidays without experiencing the traditional holiday sluggishness. Here’s to a healthy and happy holiday season!

Nothing is more reminiscent of the holidays each year than baking goodies with your children! However, sweets and treats at this time of year are often sugar-coated and calorie-laden, and not very healthy for growing bodies (or older bodies, watching their weight). Sun-Maid offers two fun treats to cook up in the kitchen that actually require no baking, so they are perfect for an after-school or snow day activity. These recipes can also be packaged prettily to give as budget-friendly gifts from the heart!

Apricot Pops

Ingredients

1 6-oz. package Sun-Maid Mediterranean Apricots
28 pretzel sticks about 4″ long and 3/8″ thick
1 cup (6-oz.) semi-sweet baking chips or white chocolate chips or 1/2 cup of each (“Mom” prefers organic)

Decorating Supplies:

1 package Sun-Maid Fruit Bits or Sun-Maid Tropical Trio
cookie sprinkles

Preparation

PLACE a piece of wax paper or plastic wrap on a cookie sheet and set aside.
PUSH a pretzel stick into the small opening at the edge of each apricot.
PUT chocolate in a microwave-safe bowl, or separate bowls for each type of chocolate. Heat on medium power (50%) for about 2 minutes. Stir until chips are melted.
HOLD end of pretzels and dip apricots, one at a time, into chocolate.
DECORATE each “Apricot Pop” right after dipping:

  • Roll in a dish of Fruit Bits or Tropical Trio.
  • Sprinkle with cookie sprinkles.
  • Dip a toothpick in chocolate to drizzle stripes or designs.
  • Make up your own decoration, or leave it plain chocolate!

PLACE finished “Apricot Pops” on cookie sheet. Refrigerate 10 minutes until chocolate is set.

Makes about 28.

Holiday Gift Jars: Fruit and Nut Snack Mix

Preparation

LAYER a selection of Sun-Maid Raisins, Apricots, Fruit Bits, Cherries or Cranberries with peanuts, almonds, pistachios, and walnuts in any size glass jar.

No recipe needed to snack any time!

*Recipes and images courtesy of Sun-Maid.*

One overlooked area during the holidays is how common it is to contract a stomach bug due to the foods consumed at this time of year, from undercooked meats & poultry to dairy-based dips that have been left out too long at the office party! Annie Pryor, of Stop the Stomach Flu, offers these timely tips to follow as we start preparing for our Thanksgiving feast and the upcoming holidays.

Tips to Avoid Food Borne Illness this Thanksgiving

By Annie Pryor Ph.D. (Biochemistry)

  1. Cook the turkey to 180 degrees Fahrenheit. Always use a meat thermometer.
  2. Wash your hands and ANYTHING that touches raw meat, poultry, or eggs. Don’t let one drop of raw turkey juice find its way to the whipped cream.
  3. Do not eat perishable food that has been left out at room temperature for more than 2 hours. Throw it away. Food must be kept cold (below 40 degrees F) or hot (above 140 degrees F). Put the food in the fridge right after the meal so you can really enjoy your turkey sandwich the next day. Of course, if your mayonnaise has been around since last Thanksgiving, it is time to purchase a new jar!
  4. Do not prepare food for other people if you have had an intestinal illness (vomiting and/or diarrhea) within the past 3 days. If Aunt Betty was recently sick with a stomach bug, do not eat the mashed potatoes that she brought.
  5. If you are storing food outside because your fridge is full, it must be less than 40 degrees F outside. Do not set the food in the sun, and put the food in air-tight containers. Mold spores blow around outside and will land on your food and grow if it is just loosely covered in foil. Watch out for neighborhood dogs. (and other animals, such as raccoons!)

*This article was provided by Annie Pryor, Ph.D. (Biochemistry) of www.stopthestomachflu.com and www.mommygenius.com.

As we approach Thanksgiving and the beginning of the holiday season, we hopefully find our hearts opening, eager to share in uplifting feelings like gratitude, inner harmony and joyful relating. During this time of year we can realize that true happiness comes not from possessions and accomplishments but from inner feelings of compassion, thankfulness and belonging to a greater community of family, friends, and world sharing.

But experiencing these uplifting feelings during the holiday season, for most people, is easier said than done. How can you take charge of your own inner experience, and actively tap into the true spirit of the holiday season?

Thanksgiving Focus Phrases That Work

By William Gladstone, Richard Greninger, and John Selby

Authors of Tapping the Source: Using the Master Key System for Abundance and Happiness

Co-authors William Gladstone, Richard Greninger, and John Selby sought to answer this core question in their new book and upcoming film, Tapping the Source, wherein they explore in depth the true “secret” to achieving not just wealth, health and material abundance – but spontaneous joy and lasting happiness.

The secret of feeling genuinely good inside your own heart has been known for thousands of years: you must first look inward regularly and reconnect with your ultimate Source of life and love and power, in order to nurture all the good feelings that constitute happiness. Connect with your Source, and then open and up and feel natural thankfulness for everything that’s coming into your life each new moment.

The truth is, without experiencing gratitude you will never be able to access the true joy of your authentic self. Feeling thankful, and in response giving of yourself to others, does feel good! That’s the heart of the holiday spirit. Your challenge is in remembering to focus on these positive feelings, so that they manifest in your life.

In the book, they explore practical Focus Phrases that will help you refocus your attention regularly inward, so that you make essential contact with the spontaneous feelings of thankfulness and sharing which are the true secret of the holiday season. At the core of your being you are an essential part of that infinite wisdom and power that created this entire universe and continues to manifest each emerging moment. Your challenge is to remember to focus on your Source – and then bring its infinite love more fully into your personal world.

When you look inward to your Source and realize the joy inherent in your true nature, you naturally become brighter and more giving in your life. While interviewing over a hundred highly-successful people for the film and book, the authors were told again and again that the greatest joy for these artists, entrepreneurs, writers and leaders was to be of service to others. They talked about the gratitude they felt in just waking up and being alive every new day – to breath, to see, to experience … and to share their feelings and creativity and insights with others.

Where you focus your power of attention determines everything in your life. And as you approach this new Thanksgiving holiday it will be important to focus, as philanthropist Shari Arison states, “on what is, and not on what is not.”

Enjoy each new breath. Accept your family and friends just as they are. If you can remember to focus regularly on your ability to create joy for yourself and others, and feel thankful for each new moment of your life, then your holiday will naturally flow with more brightness and heartfelt sharing.

To help you do this, try holding special Focus Phrases in your mind as often as possible. As they teach in Tapping The Source, you can let these key words fill your whole being with the clear intent of what you want to manifest in your life:

1: “I choose to enjoy this moment.”

2: “I feel thankful for all that I have.”

3: “I want to share my happiness.”

4: “My inner joy is right now perfect and complete.”

Whatever you do this holiday, and throughout the year, you can hold these Focus Phrases often in your mind. Aim your attention in uplifting directions more often, and you’ll feel brighter, healthier, and more loving. In this age of ‘magic bullets’ and synthetic external solutions, it’s wonderful to know that you need nothing outside of yourself to feel gratitude and joy.

For more audio and video support in focusing upon what you really want this holiday season and for the rest of your life, visit www.TappingDaily.org where you can preview the movie and the book, and share your experiences and insights with others.

The treasure troves of home decorating have long existed inside of stores such as Home Depot, Bed Bath & Beyond, and Costco. If one was looking to be cost efficient, the online world of Amazon & EBay changed the frontier of home goods shopping. But this isn’t where it ends anymore.

With the trend of being green/eco-friendly exploding in every aspect of living, including the way we shape our homes, folks around the country are implementing ideas, stores, and websites who cater to that trend in their home revamping plans.

But how far do they really go? Well, Diggerslist.com offers home shoppers a chance to not only recycle their own goods, but to indulge in the old adage “one person’s junk is another person’s treasure”. But why should one, with all of the brand-new, perfectly packaged items sitting on shelves, partake in sprucing up their home with reused and recycled items?

One Person’s Junk is Another Person’s Treasure

1. It Cuts Down on the Waste

a. The EPA estimated that 160 million tons of construction and building material ends up in landfills each year; it wouldn’t hurt to take some of that off their hands for a smaller price than the store and save some space in the Earth

b. It lessens the amount of materials sitting in storage, in one’s garage, or cluttering up the basement just wasting space and money

c. The amount of packaging materials used with new products compared to used ones is almost diminished. Since less new products need to be produced, packaged and shipped, there’s an enormous opportunity for a substantial reduction in the overall environmental footprint that is left from home improvement projects

2. Saves YOU Money

a. You can purchase reusable materials for more than ½ what you’d pay for in a store

b. You don’t spend time or gas driving from store to store, comparing prices and products; you look online in the comfort of your house and get the product

c. You have the chance to re-do an entire room, or even house, on the same budget you’d only get a handful of things from a store

3. Opens Opportunity

a. Think of the things you see in your friends storage spaces; the kooky, off-the-wall décor you think you’d only find digging through piles at vintage stores or getting lucky at a yard sale. Now think of the opportunity that lies in a world where people are selling those eccentric and original objects- that’s an opportunity to spice up your space with things that you couldn’t track down at your everyday decoration outlet.

*Article provided by Diggerslist.com for Tiny Green Mom. Image found on Earth911.com*

Mom” at Tiny Green Mom is loving these link picks!

Guilt-free goodness abounds from this fantastic site! Check out FatFree Vegan Kitchen.

PETA offers a Vegetarian/Vegan Starter Kit, with free Vegan recipes! www.PETA.org

NPR Offers Pointers on Raising Vegetarian Kids.

DisneyFamilyFun offers a plethora of Thanksgiving Crafts to make with your children this season!

In today’s go-go-go world, everything has to be bigger, stronger, faster, smarter, and sexier than whatever we thought was big, strong, fast, smart, or sexy before. The media and society in general seem to tell us that we have to keep moving and pushing to be number one in everything and that if we stop to take a break we’re going to get fat, ugly, and stupid and then we’ll die. But if you are trying to live a healthy lifestyle, all that pushing and constant movement can actually be detrimental—both physically and mentally. What we need to do is find time to stop, rest, and reflect. It is in those pauses that we will become stronger and better able to face the world head on.

The Key to Gaining Strength Through Rest

Physical Rest

Any good athlete will tell you that the days that you rest are just as important to your training as they days that you work hard. The muscles in our bodies need time to recover from the stress we put on them during an intense workout at the gym or just running to work, school, taking the kids to soccer practice, and making dinner. When we work out, our bodies are not building muscle—they are tearing it down. Exercising is the act of physically pushing our bodies to their limit.

When we are done with a workout, our bodies need time to recover and rebuild the muscle that we’ve torn down during the workout. The amazing thing about our bodies is that when we tear down our muscles, given the right amount of rest and nutrients, our bodies build them back up even stronger than before. So, if you are trying to lose weight and be healthier, taking time off actually makes you stronger. If you push harder everyday, all the time, with no rest, then your body will stay in a constant state of weakness. Resting makes our bodies stronger.

Mental Rest

Our minds work in a similar way to our muscles. In order to keep functioning at optimal levels, out minds need time to rest and reflect. That’s one of the reasons sleep is so important. As we sleep, we dream, and dreams are our minds’ way of shutting off external stimuli, evaluating our experiences through the day, making connections, and clearing out room for the next day’s experiences. If you’ve ever had the feeling of waking up and suddenly being able to solve a problem you couldn’t the night before, this is why.

As we rest our minds, we strengthen them and prepare them for the challenges that await them in the future. Similar to the way our bodies need rest, if you are constantly working your mind all day without any rest and little sleep, you will be in a constant state of mental fatigue, unable to focus on the things that really matter.

Find Time to Rest

At first it may seem that resting is counter intuitive to achieving your goals, but it is not. In fact, you’ll reach your goals easier and with more energy if you take the time to rest your body and mind properly. Take some time each day to turn off the TV and the radio, close down the computer, and sit in a comfortable chair reflecting on the day. These moments of stillness will help you focus your thoughts on the things that really matter to you. It may take some practice to clear your mind—especially if you’re used to living a frenetic lifestyle—but once you can learn to calm your thoughts and your body, you’ll be on the path to bringing more peace and more strength into your life.

*Gunter Jameson writes about several topics including travel, minimalism and online classes.*

5 Ways to Keep Your Carpet Clean and “Green”

Your carpet can be one of the dirtiest places in your home. Pets, people, and food are constantly coming in contact with your carpet on a daily basis, so it is important to provide proper care for your carpets and rugs in your house. Unfortunately, there are many cleaning products that can be toxic if ingested or if you breathe them, and it is often unsafe to leave chemicals around the house when there are young children present. Some dangerous chemicals can include pesticides, acids, lye and even formaldehyde. Side effects from these chemicals can result in an allergic reaction, respiratory illness, and/or a weakened immune system.

Going Organic at Home

Fortunately, there are many ways to go organic and reduce chemical dependency for cleaning products at home. Here are some easy ways to stay green and avoid any health risks while cleaning your carpet:

1) Start by installing organic carpeting throughout the house. Many non-organic carpeting brands can contain traces of polypropylene and other toxic chemicals, especially in the padding underneath. Organic carpets are typically made of wool and cotton and are never saturated with chemical residue.

2) Vacuum regularly. Vacuuming can help bring a lot of particulates and dirt out of the carpet that would otherwise be ground in over time, allowing stains and grime to set deeper into the carpet fibers. Not only will the carpet look better, but air pollutants are also minimized if the carpet is vacuumed about once a week. A tip for unwanted pet hair – Use a wet rubber dish washing glove on your hand to rub over surfaces and quickly pick up pet hair.

3) Natural Spot cleaning – Use equal parts of white vinegar and water and let the solution sit on the stain for a few minutes. Use a sponge to blot up the excess liquid, and pat dry. Repeat as needed, depending on the severity. For very difficult stains, make a paste with baking soda and vinegar, and apply to the stain. When dry, vacuum it up. Reuse old clothes to wipe up stains, such as old socks and t-shirts, instead of buying rags at the store.

4) Maintaining your carpet – For best results, professionally clean your carpet once or twice a year. There are local “green” carpet cleaning companies that do not use any hazardous chemicals, and they do deep vacuuming and clean way down to the padding, so stains that are deep-set will no longer come through. These “green” cleaning companies use “Green Seal Certified” techniques and proper disposal methods for the cleaning solutions, and are less expensive than you’d think. They also use vacuum cleaners that are “Green Labeled Approved” to help improve air quality while cleaning.

5) Being mindful of what cleaners and materials you bring into the home will allow you peace of mind, as well as provide a safe environment for you and your family!

About the Author: S. Sparks is a writer for small businesses and online stores with an emphasis on health and beauty. Some of her most recent work includes articles at TVTopTen.com and Carpet Cleaning San Diego.