Have you got the breakfast blues? Perk things up in the morning with this lively muesli!

Honey Graham Muesli

Ingredients

1 Cup Athenos Greek Nonfat Yogurt

2 Honey Maid Low Fat Honey Grahams, coarsely broken

2 Tbsp. finely chopped dried apricots

1 Tbsp. raisins

2 Tbsp. Planters Sliced Almonds, toasted

½ of a large apple, finely chopped (about 1 cup)

Preparation

Mix graham pieces, apricots, raisins and almonds.

Spoon ¼ of the graham mixture into 2 cereal bowls; top evenly with Greek yogurt, apple and remaining graham mixture.

*Recipe and image courtesy of Athenos Greek Yogurt.*

When Back Pain is a Just a Pain in the Butt!

Back pain is extremely common. Experts suggest that around 80% of the population will experience debilitating back pain at some point in their lives. One of the more ominous signs of serious back pain is the dreaded leg pain often referred to as “Sciatica”. The biggest concern when leg pain is present is a disc herniation, but statistically, disc herniations are not as common as other problems that can cause sciatica. One of the most common problems that can cause low back, gluteal (butt) and leg pain is dysfunction of a muscle known as the piriformis. The piriformis runs deep under the gluteal muscles. Although the piriformis is rather small, it is important because it travels directly over the sciatic nerve. When the piriformis gets tight and/or irritated it can disturb the sciatic nerve causing pain, numbness, tingling and in some cases, weakness down the leg.

Occasionally some people’s sciatic nerve actually travels through the fibers of the piriformis muscle. This is usually due to a developmental anomaly. When this happens, the sciatic nerve is that much more susceptible to getting irritated or pinched. Sometimes it can be difficult to differentiate pain caused by the piriformis. One simple way to tell if your piriformis is causing the problems is to stretch it, which will be shown coming up.

What Causes Tight Piriformis Muscles?

There are a number of factors that can contribute to overly tight piriformis muscles. It could be as simple as forgetting to properly stretch after exercises that involve this area. It could be from poor posture while sitting. With men often times the piriformis gets irritated when sitting on a wallet in the back pocket. Dr. Chad Woolner is a Boise Chiropractor. He finds that a lot of patients’ piriformis problems are a result of a misalignment in their Sacroiliac joint (or pelvis). When the SI joint gets misaligned it can lead to abnormal tension in the piriformis on one or both sides. This is because the piriformis muscle attaches to the SI joint and is directly affected by the alignment of this region.

3 Simple, Yet Effective Steps to Ending the Pain in the Butt

Step 1-Stretching

Stretching the piriformis muscle can help to alleviate a lot of pain and symptoms. In the following video, Dr. Woolner outlines two simple but very effective stretches that you can do at home to help loosen your piriformis muscle. Visit http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PjEQ39bvEJo

Step 2-Chiropractic Care

Numerous studies have shown how effective Chiropractic care can be for a wide range of problems. Among those problems that Chiropractic care can help with is problems with the piriformis muscle. As stated earlier, one of the most common causes behind over-tight and/or irritated piriformis muscles is misalignment of the SI joint. If this is one of the factors causing your problem, stretching alone often won’t cut it. Having your SI joint adjusted by a trusted Chiropractic Physician can make all the difference in the world. If you have never been to a Chiropractor or need recommendations you can contact Dr. Woolner’s clinic for recommendations by visiting www.BoiseChiropracticGroup.com.

Step 3-Magnesium, Nature’s Muscle Relaxer

Oftentimes one cause behind tight muscles is a deficiency in Magnesium. Magnesium is a mineral that is critical for a variety of different processes including proper muscle function. The average person only gets around 250mg from diet alone, this is about 100mg less than the RDA, which many experts agree is still 300-400mg lower than it should be. Supplementing with around 600-700mg of Magnesium per day can help to ease tension on overly tight muscles. Also, eating a diet high in magnesium can also be a good idea. Nuts and grains are good sources of magnesium. Beans, dark green vegetables, fish, and meat also contain significant amounts.

If you’re suffering from problems with your piriformis muscle, or think you might be, these steps are a great place to start. This is the same advice that Dr. Woolner gives to his own patients. Piriformis problems don’t need to be such a pain in the butt.

*This article and image was provided by Dr. Chad Woolner of www.BoiseChiropracticGroup.com.*

These light and cakey yet wholesome muffins from The Wholesome Junk Food Cookbook are perfect for breakfast or a lunch snack. The banana and pineapple add a natural source of sweetness while the strands of grated carrot add a texture and color. Enjoy warm out of the oven.

Golden Pineapple-Carrot Muffins (pg 67)

Yield: 8 muffins

Ingredients

1 1/2 cups unbleached flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon unprocessed sea salt

2 eggs

1/2 cup mashed banana

1/2 cup expeller-pressed oil

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 cup coarsely chopped walnuts

1/2 cup canned crushed unsweetened pineapple, undrained

1/2 cup finely shredded raw carrot

Preparation

Preheat the oven to 400°F. Grease a muffin tin.

Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt into a large bowl.

Combine the eggs, banana, oil, and vanilla in a blender. Pour over the dry ingredients. Add the walnuts, pineapple, and carrot and stir just until the flour is moistened.

Fill the muffin tin cups two-thirds full, using a 1/3-cup measure.

Bake for 20 minutes or until golden brown, testing for doneness with a toothpick or piece of pasta.

*Recipe and image courtesy of The Wholesome Junk Food Cookbook.*

When spring rolls around each year, the first thing on the mind of many people is when they can get their spring cleaning started. Opening the windows with rolled up sleeves; you can make your home fresh all over again. The problem that a lot of people have during this time is the harshness of the cleaning products. However, by making a few easy changes, you can clean without causing any harm to your own health, as well as that of your children and pets.

“Green” Up Your Spring Cleaning!

The best way to green up your spring cleaning is to get rid of all of the commercial cleaning products that you have in the home. Most of them will contain chemicals that can actually be very harmful. The fumes can cause the air in the home to be polluted and you can just imagine the damage they cause after they are drained into the sewage. Whether you choose to buy green cleaners or make your own, you will find your spring cleaning goes just as smoothly as it would use the commercial ones.

All-Purpose/Glass Cleaners

One of the first things to consider is what type of all purpose or glass cleaners you use. Many of them contain ammonia, which can be very harmful to the lungs, as well as are an irritant to the eyes. A green alternative to these are to use a mixture of 2 gallons of water, 3 tablespoons of vinegar, and just ½ cup of liquid castile soap. If the vinegar smell is not to your liking, you can substitute it with lemon juice and get the same results.

Toilet Cleaners

You can also green up your cleaning by changing up your toilet cleaner. Many of the cleaners you find will contain bleach, which again, can be very unsafe. The best way to clean your toilet safely is to use one or two denture cleansing tablets. Let them soak in the toilet overnight and, in the morning, you will have a sparkling toilet. You can also use the mixture of 1 cup of borax with ¼ cup vinegar and let that sit overnight, as well.

Bathtub and Tile Cleaners

For a lot of people, cleaning the bathtub and tiles are the worst. The cleaners used for this purpose often have a chemical called sodium hydroxide, which can cause chemical burns to the skin. To get a good scrubbing agent for this tough area, you can mix ¼ cup baking soda with ½ cup of white vinegar. When you want an aromatic cleanser, you could choose to do a mixture of a teaspoon of the liquid soap, 1 cup of baking soda, and just enough water to make it more liquid. Add in a few drops of aromatic oil, such as peppermint oil and you have a great smelling cleanser.

If you want to green up your spring cleaning and the above sounds just too difficult, you also have the option to buy organic cleaning products. You will want to look for those that do not contain any harmful ingredients. It is also important to consider the packaging, as the last thing you want to do is use those that are not package with the environment in mind.

About the Author

Nicole Rodgers has been blogging for 3 years about a variety of topics; she recently contributed to articles dealing with finding savings online and how to prep for the DMV written test.

Warm peaches drizzled with brown sugar, sprinkled with walnuts, and topped with a dollop of Greek yogurt – can you say YUM?!

Cinnamon & Brown Sugar Peaches

Ingredients

1 Cup Athenos Greek Nonfat Yogurt

1 Can (29 oz.) peach halves in juice, well-drained (“Mom” prefers fresh peaches)

¼ Cup Planters Walnut Pieces

1 Tbsp. brown sugar

1 tsp. ground cinnamon

Preparation

Place peach halves, cut-sides up, in microwaveable pie plate.

Mix walnuts, brown sugar and cinnamon. Sprinkle evenly over peaches.

Microwave on HIGH 30 sec. to 1 min. or until sugar begins to melt and peaches are heated through. Top with Greek yogurt.

Serve immediately.

*Recipe and image courtesy of Athenos Greek Yogurt.*

Oh-so-soft for little ones – this smartly designed 3 IN 1 K’tanCloth from Baby K’tan is a nursing cover, blankie and burp cloth all in one! Made of extremely soft 3-ply cotton, the K’tan Cloth features velcro to ensure that it stays put when attached to a stroller, the Baby K’tan Baby Carrier, nursing tank, or diaper bag. Plus, it has an open pocket at the bottom, this handy cloth stays open when in use as a burp cloth to catch inevitable spit-up and drool from baby!

For breastfeeding mamas, the cloth can be used as a discreet nursing cover while on-the-go, but is small enough that it can be tucked away easily into a diaper bag or purse when not in use or attached to a carrier or stroller. Plus, it makes a great shade for baby in a pinch when out in the sun! The K’tanCloth arrives packaged with two cloths in neutral colors, white with black piping and white with beige piping. It makes a fabulous gift for both new moms and seasoned moms who are expecting!

The K’tanCloth costs an affordable $24.99, and can be found online at www.babyktan.com.

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

Falafel croutons? Yes – these make a wonderfully unique salad topping! Courtesy of Dr. Praeger, this Mediterranean-inspired salad makes a lovely salad for lunch!

Carrot Cumin Salad with Falafel Croutons

Ingredients

12 Dr. Praeger’s Falafel Flats

2 lbs. carrots, peeled and cut into ¼-inch pieces (about 4 cups)

3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice (juice of 1 lemon)

1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest

3 tablespoons olive oil

1 garlic clove, finely minced

¾ teaspoon cumin

¼ teaspoon salt

¼ teaspoon pepper

¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper

3 tablespoons chopped parsley

Preparation

  1. Cook Dr. Praeger’s Falafel Flats according to package directions. Remove from heat, cool slightly and cut into quarters to make croutons.
  2. While falafel flats are cooking, bring a large pot of water to a boil and cook carrot pieces until tender-crisp, 4 to 5 minutes. Rinse carrots under cold water to cool, drain thoroughly, transfer to a medium-sized bowl and reserve.
  3. Whisk lemon juice, lemon zest, olive oil, garlic, cumin, salt, pepper and cayenne pepper in a small bowl. Pour over carrots, add parsley and toss to combine.
  4. Divide among 4 plates and top with falafel croutons.

*Recipe and image courtesy of www.drpraegers.com.*

5 Steps to a Plastic-Free Lifestyle

Plastic, the seemingly-harmless material that holds our milk, shapes our baby bottles, carries our groceries and is the substance of our debit cards, is almost unavoidable. As a non-biodegradable, toxic pollutant, it’s also extremely harmful to our environment. It’s not enough simply to recycle and reuse the plastic that we use, although that’s certainly important. Eco-conscious families should aim to live as plastic-free of a lifestyle as possible. To help you toward that end, here we will explore five steps to a plastic-free lifestyle.

1.) Say no to plastic water bottles.

Not only do billions of plastic water bottles wind up in landfills each year, but truck transport of bottled water to grocery stores, particularly water bottled outside the country, has a substantial carbon footprint. It’s better for the environment to drink filtered water from your tap and carry around stainless steel or aluminum reusable water bottles.

2.) Use reusable grocery bags.

Bring your own reusable cloth totes to the grocery store. Plastic grocery bags, although convenient, are seldom recycled and often end up in landfills alongside plastic water bottles. Another plastic-free tip for the grocery store? Don’t use the plastic produce bags provided; just set fruits and veggies directly in your cart.

3.) Make certain foods at home.

Instead of purchasing bread packaged in plastic, invest in a bread-maker and start making home-made bread, which is cheaper overall and tastes oh-so-much better once you get the hang of it. Instead of purchasing yogurt in individual plastic packages, learn to make it yourself and store it in glass containers. Granola is also easy to make at home, where you can avoid buying granola in plastic packages. Cooking from scratch also goes a long way toward reducing the amount of pre-packaged dinner items you buy at the store.

4.) Carry around a pooper scooper instead of using plastic to pick up after pets.

Disposable pet bags are convenient but they also require the use of plastic. Instead of using a plastic baggie, use a scooper and empty it in an outdoor Dumpster.

5.) Store items in Mason jars.

This is a great option to replace plastic Tupperware and other plastic storage options around the house. You can also rinse and re-use glass pasta sauce jars for food storage or opt for Pyrex.

These are just a few means by which you can reduce your family’s plastic usage. How are you reducing the amount of plastic you use around the house?

About the Author

Kitty Holman regularly writes on the topics of nursing schools. She welcomes your comments at her email Id: kitty.holman20@gmail.com.

Rich goat cheese oozes out of this delicious quesadilla packed with shrimp, green onions, and freshly diced tomatoes! Wrapped in a low carb tortilla – what could be better?!

Low Carb Goat Cheese Shrimp Quesadilla

Ingredients

La Tortilla Factory Whole Wheat Garlic & Herb Low Carb Tortilla™

1 oz goat cheese

4 cooked medium sized shrimp

1 oz diced green onion

1 oz fresh chopped tomato

Preparation

Spread goat cheese over entire tortilla.

Place the four cooked shrimp in the middle of the tortilla.

Sprinkle with diced green onion and freshly cut tomato.

Heat in a skillet on medium heat until warm.

Fold tortilla in half and serve.

*Recipe and image courtesy of La Tortilla Factory.*

Love to indulge your sweet tooth? How about doing so, but with added health benefits and wholesome goodness? Dr. Laura Trice, author of The Wholesome Junk Food Cookbook, shows us all how to enjoy our favorite treats – naturally! This fantastically yummy cookbook is chock full of more than 100 healthy snack recipes – with new, healthier twists on classic recipes such as Lemon Pound Cake or Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies, and exciting ones to test out with the family, like Almond Energy Muffins or Peanut Butter & Jelly Granola. With gluten-free & vegan recipes galore, there is something for everyone! “Mom’s” favorite recipe? One Pan Eggless Chocolate Cake! (who needs eggs – let’s get right to the best part, the CHOCOLATE!)

A healthy diet starts at home, and what better way to encourage nutritious snacking than to get the kids involved in the process! Pick a recipe from the Wholesome Junk Food Cookbook, head to the store to purchase the ingredients, and make it a fun activity that brings the whole family together!

About Dr. Laura Trice & The Wholesome Junk Food Cookbook

Author Dr. Laura Trice is on a mission to make healthy eating more fun and provides easy-to-follow steps for each recipe. The Wholesome Junk Food Cookbook introduces the importance of eating healthy and promotes a healthy lifestyle. Inside, you’ll find familiar favorites like Cinnamon Buns and Apple Pie transformed into healthier desserts. Along with great tasting recipes, each chapter contains a sidebar with nutritional and cooking tips. Both novice and experienced cooks will enjoy making such treats as Hot Banana Split S’mores, Hidden Candy Birthday Pops, and Homemade Whoopie Pies.

While The Wholesome Junk Food Cookbook is Dr. Laura’s first cookbook, she has spent years perfecting healthy yet great tasting food. In medical school she saw people suffering from illnesses that could have been prevented by better nutrition. She realized that like her patients, she only ate food that tasted great to her. Her passion for healthy, great tasting food led to the founding of Laura’s Wholesome Junk Food in 2001.

You can find Dr. Laura’s Wholesome Junk Food at Whole Foods, Harris Teeters, and numerous health food stores across the nation carry Laura’s Wholesome Junk Food products. To purchase a copy of the cookook, please visit www.lauraswholesomejunkfood.com.

Right now, one lucky Tiny Green Mom reader can win the Chocolate Lover’s Pack from Laura’s Wholesome Junk Food! You can enter the giveaway here.

*Company generously provided a cookbook copy and images for this review.*