Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Four "Organic" Back-to-School Tips

This article is from www.organicauthority.com

Written by Laura Klein, Publisher

As we enjoy the last weeks of summer (or “freedom,” as kids may call them), it’s time to prepare for the new school year. For organic families, the emphasis is on healthful lunches. Sound challenging? Not if you follow these four kid-pleasing tips.

1. Protein in Perspective

Years ago, our moms sent us to school with protein-heavy meat sandwiches and coins to buy whole milk. These days, it’s easy to lighten up with your kids’ favorite organic vegetables, low-fat cheese or tofu—each of which proves wholesome with whole-grain bread. Beans are another terrific source of protein and fiber, with negligible saturated fat.

“Nuts and seeds are portable, healthy snacks that are perfect for lunch boxes,” she adds. “They are loaded with protein and packed with energy. Ounce for ounce, pumpkin seeds have almost as much protein as beef or chicken, with a lot more of the good fats—and even have some of the amazingly heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids.”

2. Liquid Logic

 “What your child drinks with lunch each day is just as important as what he or she eats,” Dr. Renna says. “Send your child with either water, low-fat milk or a fruit-juice box—but make sure that the juice box is made from only 100% juice and is fortified with calcium, as well. Many juices contain only minimal amounts of real fruit juice and instead are filled with a lot of sugar. Read the labels and look for a juice box that is 100% pure fruit juice, such as Apple & Eve’s 100% juice box line.” (It’s organic!)

As an added bonus, juice boxes can help keep your child’s lunch cold throughout the day. Simply freeze a juice box the night before school and use it as an ice pack, Dr. Renna suggests. By lunchtime, it will be perfectly defrosted and ready to drink.

3. Involvement and Input

Moms haven’t traditionally asked us what we wanted to eat for lunch. We’d open our lunch box and grab a soggy tuna sandwich and some cookies—the icky kind no one even wanted in the daily trade. Times have changed: When you take your children to your local natural and organic food store, allow them to help you shop for school lunch staples and snacks.

“Involve your children in picking out the foods and packing the lunch box,” says Elena Serrano, an assistant professor of human nutrition, foods and exercise at Virginia Tech. “You’ll find out what they like and, if they feel a part of the process, they’re more prone to eat it.”

Make sure your children have a variety of foods in their diet, including whole grains and low-fat dairy products, she adds. You can visit MyPyramid.gov to learn more about healthful organic choices in each food group.

4. No Fuss, No Muss

It may seem obvious, but it helps to prepare organic lunches that are easy to eat, Serrano says. Make sure food is cut at the appropriate size for young children.

“Kids don’t have a lot of time to eat, and they don’t want to spend that time getting their foods ready,” confirms Carmen Byker, a Virginia Tech senior majoring in human nutrition, foods and exercise. “Cut, peel and slice fruits and vegetables in advance, or buy them ready to eat, like baby carrots, sliced apples, raisins and grapes.”

Byker encourages shopping for fruits and vegetables at your local farmer’s market. Not only will you find the freshest organic produce, but you’ll also support regional growers. These fruits and veggies also taste better, which encourages your kids to eat more servings each day, she says.

We hope this will help you pack a healthy, organic lunch, made with love for your little ones!

The Marvin's Organic Gardens Team

Friday, September 19, 2008

Keep a Pitcher of Water in Your Fridge

By Brian Clark Howard

This article is from
The Daily Green

Such a simple action as filling a pitcher of water from the tap and placing it in your refrigerator provides several benefits in terms of energy and water savings, as well as your health.

For one thing, a pitcher full of water will help your refrigerator keep your food cool more efficiently, much like how a cold ice pack works in a cooler. Also, whenever you want a glass of water, you won't have to let the tap run for a few moments to obtain a cool temperature, cutting down on waste. You won't need as much ice, which requires energy to make.

Having cold water at the ready will discourage you from reaching for disposable plastic water bottles, which have a sizable environmental footprint to produce, ship and store.

You'll also be likely to drink more water, keeping hydrated while avoiding sugar-loaded sodas and other alternatives. Plus, when tap water sits for a while (particularly when uncovered), much of the chlorine that is present from the filtration plant evaporates out. This means you're enjoying a tastier drink, and cutting down on the toxins, extremely dilute though they may be, that enter your body. Doesn't that sound refreshing?

Monday, September 8, 2008

Clean Your Windows with Vinegar

Article from The Daily Green

Instead of harsh chemical sprays, get those windows and mirrors crystal clear with a simple solution of white vinegar, newspaper and a little elbow grease. You'll also save money and the hassle of needing to stock more cleaning supplies.

It's simple: mix 2 tablespoons of white vinegar with a gallon of water, and dispense into a used spray bottle. Squirt on, then scrub with newspaper, not paper towels, which cause streaking.

If you run out of vinegar, or don't like the smell, you can also substitute straight lemon juice or club soda (don't dilute either in water), and rub with newspaper. See, simple!