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Category Archives: summer

Is Sunscreen Really Protecting You?

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Many people think that exposing their skin to the sun will give them skin cancer. So to combat it, they either slather on sunscreen when going outdoors or try to avoid the sun as much as possible. Sadly, neither of these is a good solution.

Smaller amounts of sunlight can be healthy, but overexposure is what can be harmful. In modern times, most people do not get enough sun as a result of spending large amounts of time indoors. Many people actually become Vitamin D deficient, which can cause more problems than having too much sun exposure. Vitamin D deficiencies have been connected to several types of cancers and problems during pregnancy.

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As for covering yourself in sunscreen for protection, what people don’t realize is that most sunscreens contain toxic and endocrine-disrupting chemicals, which can actually promote skin cancer and free-radical production in the body. They may protect against sunburn, but do very little to prevent skin cancer and signs of aging.

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The best solution is to get limited daily sunshine to ensure that you are producing enough Vitamin D, but no so much that you risk getting sunburned. If you are planning on being outdoors for the entire day, you should consider loose clothing, wide-brimmed hats, and sunglasses, as well as locating shady spots to minimize the amount of time you’re in direct sunlight.

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If you are in a situation where you feel it is necessary to use sunscreen (rather than get burned), the best thing to do is try a natural recipe for homemade sunscreen. Below I’ve listed a recipe by Wellness Mama, as well as her personal notes for preparation.

Next time you go out in the sun, be prepared and informed about the proper ways to protect your skin.

Natural Homemade Sunscreen

Homemade natural sunscreen with beneficial oils, zinc oxide and beeswax for water protection.

Author: Wellness Mama

Recipe type: Remedy

Ingredients

Instructions

  1. Combine ingredients except zinc oxide in a pint sized or larger glass jar. I have a mason jar that I keep just for making lotions and lotion bars, or you can even reuse a glass jar from pickles, olives, or other foods.
  2. Fill a medium saucepan with a couple inches of water and place over medium heat.
  3. Put a lid on the jar loosely and place in the pan with the water.
  4. As the water heats, the ingredients in the jar will start to melt. Shake or stir occasionally to incorporate. When all ingredients are completely melted, add the zinc oxide, stir in well and pour into whatever jar or tin you will use for storage. Small mason jars (pint size) are great for this. It will not pump well in a lotion pump!
  5. Stir a few times as it cools to make sure zinc oxide is incorporated.
  6. Use as you would regular sunscreen. Best if used within six months.

Additional Notes:

  • This sunscreen is somewhat, but not completely, waterproof and will need to be reapplied after sweating or swimming.
  • Make sure not to inhale the Zinc Oxide- use a mask if necessary!
  • This recipe has an SPF of about 15, though adding more Zinc Oxide will increase the SPF.
  • Add more beeswax to make thicker sunscreen, less to make smooth sunscreen.
  • I recommend coconut or vanilla extract or lavender essential oils for fragrance.
  • Store in a cool, dry place or in the fridge.
  • I prefer to store in a small canning jar and apply like body butter. It will be thicker, especially if you use coconut oil in the recipe.
  • Remove the Zinc Oxide and this makes an excellent lotion recipe!

10 Ways to Make Your Vegetable Dishes More Nutritious

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Now that summer is here, I prefer to prepare meals with a lot of delicious vegetables. After looking up some new recipes and information on which vegetables have the most nutritional value, I discovered that the way I cook and store them can actually be making them less nutritious! Investigative journalist Jo Robinson recently published the book Eating on the Wild Side, featuring pages and pages of information on how to properly store and prepare vegetables. Here are 10 ways we are making our vegetables less nutritious and the simple solutions to fix the problems.

 

1. Buying fresh tomatoes instead of canned.

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Cooking tomatoes makes them more nutritious, and the longer you cook them, the better. Heat changes the lycopene into a form our bodies can more readily absorb and — surprise! — canned tomatoes are much higher in phytonutrients, thanks to the heat of the canning process. Tomato paste, being more concentrated, is even better.

 

2. Storing lettuce wrong.

You might think that damaging your vegetables before storing them is a mistake, but when it comes to lettuce, tearing the leaves triggers a protective blast of phytonutrients that you can take advantage of by eating the greens within a day or two. Lettuce that is torn before storing can have double the antioxidants of whole lettuce leaves.

 

3. Boiling spinach — or any vegetable, really.

You may have heard that boiling vegetables is a no-no because water-soluble vitamins like vitamin C leach out of the food and into the cooking water, but you might not know that boiling also reduces the antioxidant content. The difference in spinach is especially dramatic: after 10 minutes of boiling, three-quarters of its phytonutrient content is in the cooking water, not in the vegetable itself. (Of course, if you consume the cooking liquid, as you do when making soup, you consume all the nutrients in the water as well.) Steaming, microwaving, sautéing, and roasting — cooking methods that don’t put vegetables in direct contact with water — result in more nutritious vegetables on the plate.

 

4. Eating your salad with fat-free salad dressing.

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We’ve known for a few years that you absorb more of the nutrients in salad when you eat it with fat, but the type of fat can make a difference. Most commercial salad dressings use soybean oil, but extra-virgin olive oil is much more effective at making nutrients available for absorption. Unfiltered extra-virgin olive oil is even better, as it contains double the phytonutrients of filtered.

 

5. Cooking garlic right after chopping it.

If you mince a clove of garlic and quickly throw it in a hot pan, you consume almost no allicin, the beneficial compound that makes garlic such a health star. That’s because the enzyme that creates allicin is not activated until you rupture the cell walls of the garlic — and is quickly inactivated by heat. Just two minutes in a hot pan or 60 seconds in the microwave reduces the allicin in just-chopped garlic to almost nothing. Letting the chopped garlic sit for 10 minutes before exposing it to heat gives the enzyme time to do its work, so your finished dish contains the maximum amount of allicin. Using a garlic press is even better than mincing, as it releases more of the compounds that combine to create allicin.

 

6. Throwing away the most nutritious parts of the vegetable.

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Most American recipes call for only the white and light green parts of scallions, but the dark green parts have a higher concentration of phytonutrients. Instead of throwing out the nutritious tops, you can ignore the recipe instructions and toss in the green parts as well, or explore recipes from elsewhere in the world which utilize the entire green onion. And don’t forget vegetable peels, which often contain a higher concentration of antioxidants than the rest of the vegetable. You can try roasting them and eating them like chips!

 

7. Eating potatoes right after cooking them.

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Many people avoid white potatoes because they are a high-glycemic vegetable, spiking blood sugar after eating. But chilling potatoes for about 24 hours after cooking converts the starch in the potatoes to a type that is digested more slowly, making them a low-glycemic vegetable. So potato salad chilled overnight is a low-glycemic food, as is a cooked, chilled, and reheated baked potato.

 

8. Cutting carrots before you cook them.

Cooking carrots whole and cutting them up after they are cooked keeps more nutrients in the vegetable. And speaking of cooking, carrots are one vegetable that is better for you cooked than raw — cooking helps break down the cell walls, making the nutrients easier to absorb.

 

9. Buying broccoli florets, instead of a whole head.

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Broccoli looks like a hardy vegetable, but from an antioxidant standpoint, it is shockingly perishable, quickly exhausting its stores of powerful phytonutrients after harvest. “I call it one of the ‘eat me first’ vegetables,” says Robinson. One study found that after 10 days — the time it took to get the vegetable from field to supermarket produce section — broccoli lost 75 percent of its flavonoids (a type of antioxidant) and 80 percent of its glucosinolates, the compounds in cruciferous vegetables that are associated with numerous health benefits. Cutting the broccoli into florets doubles the rate of antioxidant loss, so in addition to buying the freshest broccoli you can find and cooking it right away, you should choose whole heads rather than the bags of pre-cut florets.

 

10. Cooking beans from scratch and discarding the cooking liquid.

Dried beans are some of the most phytonutrient-rich foods out there, but the big surprise is this: canned have more antioxidants! If you prefer from-scratch beans, let the beans sit in the cooking liquid for about an hour after cooking to reabsorb some of the nutrients that have moved into the liquid. And try using a pressure cooker to cook beans; one study found that beans cooked in the pressure cooker had more antioxidants than those cooked with other methods.

 

Enjoy your extra-nutritious meals!

 

Some Like It Hot!

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It’s summertime, which means that there is an abundance of outdoor activities to fill your day. Some people are so excited that they forget to take proper precautions against the heat when enjoying the weather. This can result in serious illness, severe sunburns, cramps and muscle spasms, heat stroke, and in extreme circumstances, even death. It is important to be aware of the risks and prevent them as well as you can. Here are some important actions to take against excessive summer heat:

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First of all, you want your house to be a sanctuary where you can get out of the heat. Make sure your air conditioner is installed correctly and running well before the heat of summer hits. Install weather-stripping on doors and windowsills to keep the cool air in and, more importantly, keep the warm air out!

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If you don’t have an air conditioner, it’s best to open your windows during the coolest part of the day, have fans circulating the air through your house, and then close them up to keep the heat out. Use drapes or blinds to block direct sunlight from shining in and warming the interior.

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Limit outdoor activities to times of day that are cooler, such as morning and evening. Spend the warmest part of the day inside your home or in public, air-conditioned buildings such as libraries, malls, or movie theatres.

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While spending time in the sun, protect your head and face with a wide-brimmed hat and sunglasses. Wear sunscreen and reapply throughout the day, especially when swimming or sweating excessively. Wear light-colored clothing to reflect sunlight, rather than absorbing it with dark clothing.

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Limit the amount of exercise you engage in. If you must exercise in the heat, drink twice as much water as you usually would. You can replenish salts and minerals that you sweat out by drinking sports drinks.

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Drink plenty of water and other non-alcoholic drinks. This is probably the most important tip, and it is often overlooked. DRINK WATER!

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Make sure to protect your pets by keeping them indoors or in the shade and by giving them a constant supply of water.

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It shouldn’t even need to be mentioned, but never leave children or pets in the car! There are too many reports of children and pets dying because of neglect in the heat.

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Be aware of the temperature, because the hotter it gets, the more dangerous it becomes. Be aware of who is at the greatest risk of experiencing heat-related problems, such as the very young and the elderly.

Happy Father’s Day!

Father’s Day is a great time to recognize all of the wonderful things dads have done for their children this year. There are many ways to show appreciation, like planning a special event, finding that perfect gift, or doing something nice to help him out. Here are some ideas that are fun for Dad and friendly for the environment.

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Prepare an organic breakfast-in-bed

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Buy him a nice organic-cotton tie, shirt, or bathrobe

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Take him on a trip to a farmer’s market or a local restaurant

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Take him to a concert, festival, or sporting event

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Set up a hammock for him in the backyard so he can relax

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Take him bird watching and take pictures of birds you see

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Go on a hike or bicycle ride and spend some quality time together

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Get a pair of fishing poles and take him out to the river

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Find a nice recipe for dinner that the two of you can make together

Whatever you decide to do, the best part of Father’s Day will be spending some quality time together!

25 Ideas to Kick Your Summer Off Right

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Now that school is out and the weather is hot it’s time to think about what kind of fun activities you can plan to keep the whole family happy. Here is a list of 25 ideas we came up with. Use some of our ideas or come up with a few of your own.

  1. Volunteer at a local animal shelter, nature center, or organization that you support.
  2. Plan a camping trip and head out to the great outdoors.
  3. Visit your local farmer’s market for some yummy produce and local goods.

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  4. Pick berries.
  5. Use the berries you pick or the farmer’s-market finds to make delicious smoothies!

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  1. Have a picnic at a park.
  2. Go canoeing at a local lake.
  3. Have a backyard campfire – with s’mores.
  4. Go biking on a trail.

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  1. Plant a garden of herbs and veggies.
  2. Have an outdoor painting party using huge canvas or cardboard.
  3. Visit a museum.
  4. Learn about stargazing and identify as many constellations as possible.

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  5. Go outside and play. Volleyball, basketball, baseball, badminton- whatever game you love, get out and start playing.
  6. Get a map of the US and mark off all the exciting places you want to visit.
  7. Lace up your skates and go rollerskating.

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  8. Make popsicles with your favorite organic juice.
  9. Visit a flea market.
  10. Pick up a new hobby like painting, writing, fishing, etc.
  11. Visit a national park. The kids can even become Junior Rangers!

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  12. Have a game night with charades, Pictionary, Jenga, Monopoly, etc.
  13. Attend an outdoor festival or concert.
  14. Find a local carnival.
  15. Have homemade-pizza night.

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  16. Fall into a good book.

Whatever you decide to do, enjoy the summer, be sure to stay hydrated and protect yourself from the sun!

 

Plan A Picnic

 

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Memorial Day Weekend is the perfect occasion to pack a picnic and head outdoors to enjoy the beautiful weather. First you have to decide what dishes to bring. Typical picnic foods can include hamburgers, hot dogs, potato salad, and cookies, which are not the healthiest choices (though they may be delicious). If you’re looking for better options, here are 10 healthy finger-food ideas for your next picnic outing!

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1. Edamame

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2. Ants on a Log (celery with peanut butter and raisins)

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3. Grilled Vegetables (zucchini, squash, mushrooms, etc.)

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4. Pita Chips with Hummus

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5. Homemade Trail Mix (dried fruits and nuts)

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6. Turkey Sandwiches with low-fat ingredients (whole-grain bread, lettuce, tomato, sprouts, and low-fat cheese)

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7. Shrimp and Lemon Skewers

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8. Yogurt

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9. Fruit Salad

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10. Angel Food Cake (low in calories) with fresh fruit and fat-free whipped cream

Now that your basket is packed with delicious foods, it’s time to head out and enjoy the beauty of nature!

 

Spring is in the Air…

Spring is finally here! After an unusually bizarre winter with the “polar vortex” swirling around the east and the dry skies in the west, we’re all ready to enjoy the pleasures of springtime. The sun is shining, maybe a little rain is still falling, but warm weather is here, hopefully to stay!

 

Here is a list of 10 things to do, get outside… enjoy the weather and your family and friends.

1. Read outside on a blanket in the sun

2. Go fishing with your buddies

images-13. Do some spring cleaning to fun music

4. Make these beautiful spring centerpieces, using simple glass jars and lemons for a touch of color!

20893414909de221e35e3b2d0ff7b1fa-15. Fly a kite on the beach

6. Plan a “staycation” with these cool ideas

7. Take pictures of wildflowers

5847087633_598af01050_z-18. Make this delicious “dirt cake”:

6309663259aac1a07cbdb3f4d3e9cf879. Walk barefoot on cool grass

10. Make a fairy garden like this one!

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