Sunday, August 30, 2009

Menu Plan Monday

This is my first Menu Plan Monday and I am so excited because this was just the push I needed to do something I have intended to do...and have made loose attempts at doing, for years now. When I go food shopping, I always have a general list in my head. There are our usual staples, which I am always restocking, but I almost never have an actual menu in mind. I may have a couple cravings that dictate what I am thinking I'd like to make, but it is definitely more of a spontaneous shopping experience. And though I would like to say that I am a very organized person (I am striving...I will be there some day), I am, well, much more organized than I used to be AND super proud of that little achievement. When you have a toddler, you are forced to fine tune this characteristic...whether you like it or not. So here I go, procrastination of the menu planning has come to a halt!

Breakfast Options: Our usuals-oatmeal with chia seeds and agave nectar, toasted Ezekiel English muffins with almond butter and topped with a bit of our homemade trail mix of the week, fresh berries for me (my daughter is currently in a frozen blueberry phase), smoothies, Barbara's Organic Breakfast O's, some version of eggs.

Lunch Options: Turkey or PBJ (actually ABJ-almond butter) sandwiches on sprouted whole grain bread, veggies with hummus, mixed salads, flax crackers with our favorite raw "three layer dip" by Licious Dishes here in Hawaii, grilled "cheese" (almond cheese) and tomato soup, "squiggly noodle salad" with brown rice noodles, finely chopped veggies and olives, sliced avocados to add to any one of these.

Sunday-Off to one of our favorite Thai places right next to our church.

Monday-leftovers from one of our favorite Thai places!

Tuesday-Veggie Italian Omelet/Fritata-ish/Scramblie Egg Thingie...hope to post this recipe soon.

Wednesday-Applegate Farms' grass-fed beef, nitrate-free, organic hotdogs on sprouted-grain bread and plenty of mustard and ketchup! Served with steamed cauliflower and baby carrots.

Thursday-Raw Lasagna.

Friday-Gotta finish off the lasagna.

Saturday-Grass-fed beef burgers with sauteed onions, mushrooms, and kale.

Desserts will be spontaneous, but will likely include Coconut Bliss ice cream.

Phew...I did it! I really did it!
*This is a healthy-living blog, so go ahead and insert the word "organic" in front of just about everything. Here's to getting organized with Menu Plan Monday, and here's to your health!

Friday, August 28, 2009

The Great Summer Cook-Out

With Labor Day right around the corner, you may have one last chance for a summer BBQ. Of course, since we live in beautiful Hawaii (sorry to rub it in), we cook out all throughout the year. Here are a few tips for healthy grillin'.

If you're grilling up burgers, choose grass-fed beef. What is the difference between grass-fed and corn-fed? Well, put a cow out in the pasture and what does it eat? Grass. Due to a very high number of cattle being raised for food, ranchers began feeding cows corn to try to reduce damage to the land from overgrazing. Well, cows don't digest corn so the result is fattier beef, higher in cholesterol and saturated fats, which as you know, are linked to coronary heart disease. A better solution for the industry might be to raise fewer, healthier cattle....but that is another discussion. I like to feature local Hawaii companies when I can, so if you are here in Hawaii, try Northshore Cattle Company. One serving of grass fed beef has about the same Omega-3 essential fatty acids as a serving of fish. That is great news for burger lovers!

A cook-out just isn't the same without a Dawg! Hotdogs are the all-American food. I get nostalgic when I eat them-they bring back lots of childhood memories. I have tried many healthier versions of the hotdog. Whether turkey or chicken or beef, I always ended up a little disappointed...until I found Applegate Farms' all-natural, organic, nitrate-free, grass-fed beef hotdog. Reminiscent of the classic hotdog of my youth, this one of the yummiest and healthiest dogs around. AND they are the only ones that don't leave me regretting that I chose to eat a hot dog...if you know what I mean.

If you're serving one up for me, don't hold the pickles. I was craving pickles a while back as I shopped at Whole Foods and came across a brand I hadn't heard of before-Bubbies. They are excellent! Bubbies are crunchy, kosher, delicious pickles that have a little spicy kick. And they have something other pickles don't-live, active cultures. A pickle that is yummy and good for you too?

Last, but not least are the sauces. I'm a sauce kind of girl. I like to load my goodies with ketchup, mayo, and mustard. There are some great, healthier choices at health food stores. I choose Organic Ville ketchup because it's organic and it's sweetened with agave syrup instead of high-fructose corn syrup. I also recommend Westbrae Naturals mustard, Miso Mayo, and Vegennaise (instead of mayo).

Quick tip: When you're cookin' on the grill, be sure the grill has been cleaned thoroughly from the last time you BBQ'd and avoid charring your food because it can create carcinogens.

Here's to fun, healthy grillin'!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Pure, Natural, Beautiful Skin!

I have been using mineral makeup for a while now and I am excited to see such a buzz about it these days. Suddenly every brand out there has a mineral line of cosmetics. But, not all mineral makeup is created equal. Some products still contain parabens and other chemicals. I have tried several different brands, including the more popular Sheer Cover (also called Bare Minerals and Bare Escentuals) seen on late-night infomercials. I liked the product, but was curious about one ingredient in particular-bismuth oxychloride. So I googled it and found that it is a naturally occuring element, but some companies use a synthetic form of it, which goes through various chemical processes during production. It can be a skin irritant in some people, causing itchiness and other symptoms. Well, that explained the itchiness I had been feeling on my skin!

I started shopping around online and found two great mineral lines that make very pure and natural, beautiful makeup. Both companies offer inexpensive samples, allowing me to try different shades to find the right one for me. I love mineral makeup because it is light and weightless, blends nicely into any skin type, and it reflects light which minimizes fine lines and wrinkles. It offers a natural SPF with titanium dioxide, and with it's nurishing minerals, it can actually improve our skin! "Matching" our skin perfectly just isn't possible, and our skintones may vary throughout the seasons of the year. But I find that with mineral makeup, I can easily adjust my shade by mixing colors together-and I have total control over the amount of coverage I want by using different brushes.

My favorite brand is Alima Pure. It comes in simply beautfiul packaging, the company uses recycled materials for shipping, and they always throw in extra samples! I especially love their eyeshadows. I bought sample sizes of several colors months ago and I have yet to run out...a little goes a long way. My favorite shadows are Amethyst, Plum, and Zen. Alima Pure makes the most gorgeous eyeshadows I have ever tried!

Another brand I like is Sheer Miracle. Their website and packaging are not very glamorous, but they offer beautiful, pure makeup. I really like their foundation. Their colors are a very similar match to the popular Bare Escentuals, without the bismuth oxichloride. I use "Medium Light Neutral", a great blend for light skin with both pink and golden undertones.

Here's to playing with makeup and here's to a healthy, gorgeous you!

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Do You Clean Well?

"Lavese sus manos!"-Wash your hands. We see the signs in public restrooms, we hear about germs and preventing illnesses from our doctors, read about it in magazines, and hear about it on the news. Antibacterial soaps and instant sanitizers have been pushed by the health industry and rightfully so. We do need to wash our hands. BUT what are the common ingredients found in antibacterial soaps...and are they safe?

Most antibacterial soaps include dangerous chemicals like Triclosan-a chemical that resembles a pesticide, Benzalkonium Chloride, and others. Search "antibacterial chemicals" on the Skin Deep Cosmetics Data Base for a more detailed list.

For awhile I avoided these strong chemicals by simply adding a few drops of naturally antibacterial essential oils to my favorite natural soap. But I couldn't take my soap to go, and those instant sanitizing gels left my skin feeling dry and smelling medicinal. Now that I am a mommy, I of course, want the best for my little one. I was thrilled one day to find an all-natural, alcohol-free hand sanitizer, in a convenient spray form, that smells great, won't dry out your hands, and most importantly, does not contain any dangerous chemicals.

As if it isn't enough of a job keeping our little ones safe and healthy, worrying about yucky chemicals in the products we use to keep the germs away should not be part of the deal. Clean Well antibacterial sprays and soaps are safe and have been proven to kill 99.99% of germs. I wouldn't consider myself a germaphobe, but since our little one just happens to be a finger sucker, we have to constantly clean her hands. This spray is great because I can quickly sanitize hands, wash a boo-boo without causing a sting, or even give toys a quick cleaning. I keep one of the little sprays in my purse, my car, the stroller, etc. I keep a larger spray at hand in the kitchen and bathroom...convenient germ busting when my daughter is just too busy to be bothered with washing her hands in the sink!

We were at the pediatrician's office the other day, and I pulled out my handy little spray to clean my daughter's hands after she'd played with some toys. The nurses were so excited about an alcohol-free sanitizer. The doctor was most impressed with the chemical-free part. Everywhere I go I have a Clean Well spray, and everywhere I go, people ask me about it. I cannot say enough good things about this product. It is one that I just can't do without!

Order Clean Well products on their official site or buy at Target, health food stores or Amazon. By now you know that I am a fan of the spray, but I also LOVE their Orange Vanilla foaming hand soap. It smells like a dreamsicle! Yummy. Here's to keeping clean and doing it naturally!

(just in case you need specific directions-Ha Ha!)

Click this link for more information on how Clean Well got started:

Monday, August 24, 2009

Nature's Sports Drink

My husband and I honeymooned on Kauai. It was our first time in Hawaii and we were absolutely taken in by this paradise. Just about every day, we stopped at a little stand that sold fresh fruit, smoothies, and iced-cold coconuts. We'd chat with the owner of the stand about beautiful Kauai as he opened up two coconuts and put a straw in each of them. We would drink that sweet water and then scoop out the meat and eat it with a spoon. That week we fell in love with the Hawaiian islands...and with coconut water!

Back on the mainland, we started buying cases of young coconuts from Thailand at an Asian market. My husband managed to get a little opening system going, and though it was not as swift as our friend at the fruit stand, it got the job done. We enjoyed coconut water for years that way, and then we moved to Hawaii. Ironically, there is an abundant supply of coconuts hanging from treetops in our own neighborhood, but our association has them professionally cut down as a safety precaution. Thankfully we discovered O.N.E (One Natural Experience) at our local health food store. This coconut water is just as sweet and refreshing...and a little easier to open up and enjoy with a straw!

Here are the nutritional facts, straight from the side of the container. Unlike popular sports drinks, O.N.E is not loaded with artificial colors, flavors, or high-fructose corn syrup. What it is loaded with is electrolytes. It regulates the functioning of the intestine, helps hydrate the skin, and keeps the body cool. When you read the label, it is clear that nature makes the finest sports drink available. The others just don't measure up!

If you are here in Hawaii, you will find the best price for O.N.E. at Down To Earth. It's also available on Amazon.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Fun Picture

I just had to post a picture of another one of my talented husband's creations with Magic Nuudles. Our daughter loves her new bumble bee friend!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Healthy Play

As a mom, it is a little unnerving to go to a toy store and see the "recall list" posted up on a corkboard. More and more toys are being recalled due to unsafe levels of lead and other chemicals. Toys are a big business and there are so many to choose from. I am excited to see that wooden toys have made a huge comeback. These classics have been around for a long, long time but recently I am finding them more readily available.

Some of our favorite toys are by Melissa and Doug. From puzzles to pretend play, I can be sure my little one will be entertained and safe with these beautifully handcrafted toys. Melissa and Doug makes most of their toys in the USA, they use non-toxic paint, and the toys are constructed from wood or plastic that is free of harmful chemicals.

Our most recent kid purchase was a bag of Magic Nuudles. My daughter had lots of fun getting creative with them this afternoon. They are biodegradable, non-toxic, and most importantly, they are silly. The possibilities are endless with these little blocks made out of cornstarch! Here is a giraffe with a little Daddy and Phoebe (our little one) riding it. My husband is quite talented. I am so jealous!

If you are looking for a great way to entertain your little one at restaurants, I recommend Wikki Stix. We first discovered these at a nearby restaurant that handed them out with their kids menu-brilliant! Crayons just don't cut it for long with our busy little bee. Wikki Stix are much more captivating, and fun for all ages to fiddle around with. These fun and flexible sticks are made in the USA from natural materials and are non-toxic.

These fun toys can be found at your favorite educational or toy store. I find the best deals on Amazon. Search the To Your Health Amazon store under "kid stuff" for more. Here's to happy AND healthy playtime!

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

In The Mix

My three-year-old daugter loves to be in the kitchen. She climbs up on the stool in her little apron and chef's hat, ready to go to work. One of her favorite projects is trail mix. Every week we put a batch together. It is the easiest and the least messy thing we are whipping up these days. This is a great one for kids. There is no measuring involved, they can choose what and how much of each item, and taste test as they go. It's a quick and fun thing to do in the kitchen and it offers immediate gratification-no waiting for the oven to buzz. Just mix the ingredients together and enjoy! Eat it by the handful, sprinkle it on top of toast with your favorite nut butter, or add it to a parfait. So what is in our trailmix this week?

Cashews-lower in fat than most nuts, high in copper, an essential component of many enzymes, plays a role iron utilization, elimination of free radicals, development of bone and connective tissue, and the production of the skin and hair pigment called melanin; also good source of magnesium, trytophan, and phosphorus.

Soy nuts-contain phytochemicals (called isoflavones), which have been shown in hundreds of studies to help prevent heart disease and several forms of cancer.

Macadamia nuts-a high energy food, full of protein and fiber and loaded with antioxidants, fiber, phytochemicals, protein, minerals, monounsaturated fats.

Goji berries-himalayan superfruit that has been used in Asian herbal medicine for thousands of years, packed with essential amino acids, good source of vitamin C, rich in Vitamin A, and over 20 trace minerals and vitamins including zinc, iron, phosphourus, riboflavin, vitamin E as well as carotenoids, including beta-carotene. Wow!

Coconut chips-add a tasty crunch with fiber and protein.

Sprouted pumkin seeds (by Go Raw)-one of the healthiest foods in the world, high in amino acids, zinc, protein, and iron. *Many believe they can help prevent prostate cancer.

Sunflower seeds-this source of fiber is also high in vitamin E, B1 (thiamin), maganese, magnesium, copper, tryptophan, phosphorus, folate, B5 and selinium, which detoxifies and helps prevent cancer.

Pinenuts-nature's only source of pinoleic acid, which stimulates hormones and helps diminish your appetite; have the highest concentration of oleic acid (a monounsaturated fat that aids the liver in eliminating harmful triglycerides from our body); good source of iron and magnesium.

Pecans-contain more than 19 vitamins and minerals – including vitamin A, vitamin E, folic acid, calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, several B vitamins; may help inhibit unwanted oxidation of blood lipidslipids, thus helping prevent coronary heart disease.

Walnuts-an excellent source of omega-3 essential fatty acids (a special type of protective fat the body cannot manufacture), have many potential health benefits ranging from cardiovascular protection, to the promotion of better cognitive function, to anti-inflammatory benefits helpful in asthma, rheumatoid arthritis, and inflammatory skin diseases such as eczema and psoriasis. Also contain an antioxidant compound called ellagic acid that supports the immune system and appears to have several anticancer properties.
Unsweetened carob chips-yummy chocolate flavor without the caffeine.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Genetically What?

I have this great friend. We chat about everything-faith, family, blogging, our kids. Recently she got some very important info at a farmer's market about GMOs. What are GMOs? They are genetically modified organisms, basically food that has had it's DNA modified. Is it safe? Well, there isn't enough research to say for certain, but I for one, don't want anything to do with them. The problem is, like many things in our country, there are no requirements to label them GMO, so chances are you are buying them every day. BUT my friend just learned that by simply reading the code on our produce, we can know just what we are paying for. Here's the way it works:

All produce is labeled with a number coded sticker...

Four digit numbers starting with 3 or 4 mean:
non-GMO, conventionally grown
Five digit numbers starting with
8 mean:
the produce is GMO
Five digit numbers starting with
organically grown

So now, in addition to squeezing, smelling, and even occassionally thumping, there is one more way to go about choosing our produce. While organic is the best and I try to buy organic whenever possible, it is not always available. Now we all have the power to choose and know what we are getting. So what is the big deal with genetically modified foods? Well, there hasn't been extensive research on them, but animals refuse to eat them. Something about that leaves me a bit uncomfortable. Read the article below for more information. Here's to getting all the facts...and here's to your health!

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Raw, Raw, Raw!

I made the raw lasagna again...and this time I remembered to take a picture. If you are thinking that you would love to try some raw food dishes, but don't want to make them yourself, there are some great companies that make prepared raw foods and distribute them to local health food stores. One such company here in Hawaii is Licious Dishes. I recently tried several of their items and they are, well...licious! I am totally addicted to their three-layer dip. I also like their lasagna, the variety of tasty dips that accompany their crispy flax crackers, and their haupia...yummy. You can stop by their kitchen and pick up single items in their fridge or place an order on Monday to be picked up on Friday, for either a 3-meal or a 5-meal plan for the week! Now that is easy meal planning. Some of their items can also be found at a local favorite, Vim & Vigor.

There are also some wonderful full-service restaurants dishing up raw cuisine. Be adventurous-google "raw food restaurant" and see what pops up in your area. If ever in Chicago, try Charlie Trotter's, where they feature a raw-tasting menu. Famous chef, Charlie Trotter is world renowned for both cooked and raw cuisine at it's finest.

If you want to pick up a few raw food snacks for on the go, check out some tasty snacks by
Go Raw at Whole Foods and other health food stores, or Amazon. I love the sprouted pumpkin seeds and the spicy flax chips. So, am I a total raw foodie convert? I still love fish and devour a good burger at least once a week or so. I think it's great for each of us to embrace the healthiest lifestyle we can while enjoying foods we love. I am thrilled with my newfound love for raw dishes and plan to continue to experiment as often as I can. I feel great...and my jeans are fitting quite nicely too! Here's to raw food and here's to your health!

Saturday, August 8, 2009

More Than Skin Deep

A good friend recently asked me to blog about cosmetics and since I have been wanting to for some time, I am happy to oblige. When I first started making changes to what I was putting in my body, I didn't think much about what I was putting on my body...and then I met a very organic-focused esthetician while attending massage school, who helped me understand this simple truth-if it's on your body, it's in your body.

Our skin is the largest organ in our bodies and it absorbs everything like a sponge. We are all familiar with the fact that doctors are prescribing "patch" medications-from birth control to smoking cessation. This is proof that what we put on our skin is absorbed into the bloodstream. For years I used popular department store cosmetics, like Mac and others. In college I had a strange infection on my eyelid skin. It was so raw and irritated that I could not wear makeup at all for weeks. I asked my doctor about it and she said it looked like I was allergic to red dye #5, which is often found in eye shadows, especially mauves and favorite colors. Darn!

Fast forward a few years and I am still using the same cosmetics but avoiding the purple hues. Along comes this esthetician friend who educates me about the ingredients found in many cosmetic lines...I was appalled and a little grossed out. You may not be aware, but there are alarming amounts of petroleum and other dangerous chemicals in many personal care products. I decided this part of my health-conversion was not going to be gradual. I bought some makeup recommended by my friend and immediately went home and trashed everything in my cosmetics bag. A little rash? (Okay, no pun intended, but given my past eye infection I now understood that my body was rejecting a very foreign substance).

I have been using natural makeup for several years now (including beautiful plum eye shadows!) and I have experimented like crazy and been an obsessive ingredient reader. Natural makeup has come a long way. I have tried some great...and not so great products. I would love to give you all my favs in one post, but that would impossible as a mommy of a three-year-old. So each week I will feature some of my favorite skincare and cosmetic products.

First, it is important to know what is in our personal care products. Since the FDA does not regulate these products here in the USA, reading the labels with a little scrutiny is required. Here are just a few of the ingredients we should avoid...good luck pronouncing most of them!

1. Phthatales, di-n-butyl phthalate (DBP) and di(2-ehtylhexyl) phthalate (DEHP)
2. Parabens or alkyl-p-hydroxybenzoates (methyl, propyl, butyl, and ethyl)
3. Lauryl sulfate(SLS), Sodium laureth sulfate(SLES)
4. Dissodium EDTA
5. Dimethicone
6. Formaldehydes or Diazolidinyl urea, 3-diol Imidazolidinyl urea, DMDM Hydantoin , Quaternium-15, Nitropropane-1, Formalin , Methanal , Methyl aldehyde, Methylene oxide, Morbicid acid, Oxymethylene
7. Amines-Diethanolamine (DEA), triethanolamine (TEA), amonoethanolamine (MEA)
8. Propylene / Butylene Glycol (PG)

This list may seem daunting to remember, but don't worry...I will be posting lots of great products sans the harsh chemicals. In the mean time you can do a little research of your own if you'd like. There is a great site that gives products a safety rating, defines their scientific ingredients, and lists the potential risks. I checked it out recently and I was impressed with the amount of info I got. To learn more about ingredients or to search a particular product, use Skin Deep Safe Cosmetic Data Base.

Here's to beautifully healthy skin and a healthy you!

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Super Kid Food

Who says you shouldn't play with your food?
My daughter and I had fun with her breakfast this morning. What is it? Half an Ezekiel hamburger bun, toasted and topped with almond butter, Salba (chia seeds), Goji Berry eyes, nose and mouth, and blueberry hair. We topped it all off with a swirl of agave nectar.

Together these foods pack lots of nutrients, super-duper antioxidants, protein, and fiber to start your little one's day off right. Super food. Super fun. Here's to your health!

Saturday, August 1, 2009


Recycling in Hawaii is not quite as sophisticated as the mainland. Hawaii has yet to catch up, but is doing better and better. We do our part when we buy items that won't create more waste. I won't go into the whole global warming thing, because there is evidence that the environment heats and cools for periods, etc, etc and there is ongoing research to be done. Regardless, we ought to live responsibly! Growing up, my mom got after us if we let the water run while doing dishes or brushing our teeth. We used every bit of what we had a little went to waste. We need to be good stewards and try our very best to take care of our planet. It's healthier for us and our kids. I love it when I find products that not only allow me to do this, but also save me money in the long run.

One of my favorite places to get reusable stuff is at This site has great lunch bags, shopping bags, Sigg Bottles, and more. An item that I have used over and over and over is the Wrap-N-Mat. I wish I had invented this handy little mat with the Velcro closure. We pack a sandwich or other snack, wrap it, velcro shut, and we are out the door. When it is time to eat, we open it up and it becomes our very own little place mat. It's a great product and now I hardly ever use Ziplocs. We just wash and dry the wrap-n-mats and they are ready use again. You can also find these at

Our favorite lunch bag is often in tow. Our three-year-old loves to cart it around for long car rides or trips to the beach. This stylish bag, made of wetsuit material is sheer genius. It is naturally insulated, which means no worries about leaching lead (did you know that many insulated coolers may do this?). We throw a couple ice packs in and our food stays cool. Plus, we love how cool this bags looks!

Another product we love are chico bags. They roll up into themselves, with a little drawstring closure. Store a couple in your purse or keep them available in the car, and you will always have your own shopping bag ready when you need it! I love how compact these little bags are, but what I love most is their durability. I can stuff them to the brim with groceries and make fewer trips from the car to the front door. Find them at the reusable bags online store or at

Here's to our planet and here's to your health!