6 Ideas for an Eco-Friendly Valentine’s Day

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Before you rush out and buy those last-minute Valentine’s gifts from the grocery store, here are a few ideas to keep your Valentine’s personal and eco-friendly.

Homemade Cards are the Best!

handmade-valentines-day-cards-craftUse recycled paper to create a unique and one-of-a-kind heartfelt card. You can even add some flare with objects from around the house, like buttons and ribbons, or add a list of things that you love most about the person.

Choose Potted Over Cut Flowers

yellow-phalaenopsis-99363_640Give a potted plant rather than a bouquet. This way your loved one can enjoy them longer and even plant them in their garden.

Chocolate Makes a Delicious Option

chocolate-marshmallows-502376_640Don’t just pick a heart-shaped box that was conveniently located by the checkout line in the store. Give a box of scrumptious organic chocolates.

Skip the Restaurant

Avoid the crowds and create a delicious dinner at home together! This is a fun way to spend the evening, and you can even pick your own menu, music, and entertainment.

Pick a Unique Gift

hand planted the tree in soilGive a gift that symbolizes your love, like planting a tree. This is a gift that will give for years to come!

Go Vintage

8699142296_2f947f0d57_hCheck out vintage stores to find a special one-of-a-kind vintage gift. Retro is in!

However you choose to spend your Valentine’s Day, be sure to make it special!

Why Your Body Loves Sleep

You may think your body just shuts down when you sleep. However, your body goes through an amazing and complex process. As you go through the four stages of sleep each night, your body triggers processes that help you achieve that rested and healthy feeling the next morning.

Here’s a graphic from the Huffington Post that shows each stage of the sleep cycle and the effects that being in that stage have on your body.

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For more information on the the cycles and their effects, check out the full article, Your Body Does Incredible Things When You Aren’t Awake.

So be sure to rest up and get your ZZZs!

Why Do Teens Nowadays Get Less Sleep Than Previous Generations?

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Teens of this generation are generally getting less sleep than those of previous generations. What could be the reasoning behind this trend?

According to a study performed at Uni Research Health in Norway, the culprit could be the hours a day teens spend using electronic devices. The study was based on data gathered from 10,000 16- to 19-year-old boys and girls, who were asked about their daily quantity of screen time as well as their sleeping habits.

The findings were that those who used an electronic device for over four hours a day had a 49% higher risk of taking longer than an hour to fall asleep. Those who exceeded two hours of screen viewing per day were more likely to toss and turn before falling into a deep sleep. Teens who used multiple devices throughout the day were more likely to get less than five hours of sleep per night.

The reasoning behind this might be linked to the screen light, which may impact sleep hormone production. It could also be related to the social communication aspect, such as anticipating a response from a friend.

An easy way to fix this problem would be to treat electronic devices like any other stimulant (such as caffeine) and limit their use before bedtime and just in general. If the devices are not used while in bed, the body and mind won’t associate the bedroom with wakefulness, and could thus obtain better sleep.

For more information about how electronic devices impact teen sleep, read this article by Bill Briggs from NBC News: http://www.nbcnews.com/health/health-news/zombieland-tech-wrecking-sleep-scores-teens-study-n298901

Warm Up with an Organic Soup

Bean and Barley Soup

Take the chill off this winter with a nice warm bowl of soup for dinner! Here is a great recipe for a healthy and organic soup that will please the whole family.

Bean and Barely Soup

Yield: 4 (serving size: 1¼ cups soup and 1½ teaspoons cheese)

Ingredients

1 cup organic pinto beans

1 tablespoon organic olive oil

2 cups finely chopped organic red onion

1 cup finely chopped fresh organic flat-leaf parsley

1/2 cup finely chopped organic celery

1/2 cup finely chopped organic carrot

1/2 cup chopped fresh organic basil

9 cups water

2 cups organic vegetable broth

2 organic bay leaves

1/3 cup uncooked organic pearl barley

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1/2 teaspoon of your favorite hot sauce

2 tablespoons grated fresh organic Parmesan cheese

Directions

Sort and wash beans; place in a large saucepan. Cover with water to 2” above beans; bring to a boil. Cook 2 minutes; remove from heat. Cover and let stand 1 hour. Drain beans. Wipe pan dry with a paper towel.

Heat oil in pan over medium-high heat. Add onion, parsley, celery, carrot, and basil; cook 3 minutes, stirring frequently. Add beans, 9 cups water, vegetable broth, and bay leaves; bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer 1 hour and 15 minutes or until beans are tender. Discard bay leaves.

Place 3/4 cup beans and 3/4 cup cooking liquid in a blender; process until smooth. Return pureed bean mixture to pan. Stir in barley, salt, pepper, and hot sauce; bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer 30 minutes or until barley is done. Ladle soup into individual bowls; sprinkle with cheese.  

Enjoy! 

Young consumers want healthier food!

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USA Today’s most recent article offers eye-catching information based on the Nielsen’s Global Health and Wellness survey, offering insight into younger consumers preference for healthier food. Whether the subject is organic, natural or GMO-labeled they are more concerned and aware about what they are putting into their bodies than previous generations were.

“The most health-centric are Generation Z — consumers under age 20 — with 41% saying they would willingly pay a premium for ‘healthier’ products. That compares with 32% of Millennials (ages 21 to 34) and about 21% of Baby Boomers (about 50 to mid-60s).”

Although the article states that 63% of consumers are skeptical about food health claims, younger generations are not as jaded and are more accepting of new information regarding what we put in our bodies. Hopefully this is a trend we will begin to see more of as education and knowledge become more readily available.

Read more from USA Today here: http://www.usatoday.com/story/money/2015/01/19/healthy-food-nielsen-global-health–wellness-study/22000167/

Easy Ways to Improve Your Sleep

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We have said it once and we will say it again, sleep is important! But many people are still not getting enough good sleep every night and are, in fact, sleep deprived. Here are some simple ways to improve your nights sleep.

Length of Sleep

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It can be easy to convince yourself that the length of time you sleep is not that important. However, it is essential to your health, performance, and recovery. It is important to get a full night of sleep each night to perform your best during the day.

Importance of the Sleep Phases

There are different phases of sleep, two of which are very important in determining the quality of your sleep: slow-wave sleep (deep sleep) and REM sleep. The human body is pretty amazing, as it will manage the length of time you stay in each cycle. The time you spend in each cycle will adjust automatically based on what your body needs and the total length of time you are sleeping.

Earlier Bedtime

A way to ensure you are getting enough zzz’s and enough time in those sleep phases is to go to bed at a decent time. Give yourself extra time to relax and fall asleep by making your bedtime a little earlier, if needed. Consistency is great too if you go to bed at the same time every night it’s easier for your body to develop good sleep habits.

Avoid Distractions

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Keep distractions out of the bedroom. Make your bed about sleeping, not watching TV or playing on your phone, tablet, or computer. Creating a restful environment will help your body relax and make falling asleep a little easier.

Take these tips and enjoy a restful night’s sleep.