Mama’s Monday Favorite: Health Valley Organic Garden Herb Crackers

cracker

Whenever I think about crackers, I think of Kindergarten classrooms with little plates of crackers and little cups of grape juice. I’m not much of a cracker fan, but Health Valley’s Organic Garden Herb Multigrain Crackers caught my eye.

It wasn’t quite love at first sight, but it was definitely love at first bite. A few weeks ago, I realized I needed to add more fiber to my diet. I love my fruits and veggies, but I needed to up the ante and add some multi-grains to my afternoon snack. I went to my favorite store, Whole Foods Market and headed straight to the Cracker aisle. I must have looked like a damsel in distress because one of Whole Food’s workers approached me and asked if I needed any help. I told him that I was looking for a healthful cracker that also tasted good.

There were several types of healthy crackers to choose from, but none of them looked tasty enough. My Whole Foods’ helper (Kevin) understood my dilemma and suggested that I choose a box that looked ‘tastier than the rest’. I chose Health Valley’s Organic Garden Herb Multigrain Cracker. Kevin opened the box, handed it to me and told me to try one. I was a little surprised (can we really eat food without paying for it?) I reached in and grabbed a cracker. With a little hesitance, I tasted it. The cracker tasted a lot better than I expected. I happily grabbed a few boxes, loaded them into my cart and thanked Kevin for helping me find a healthy, yet tasty cracker.

– Mama

**Mama’s Monday Favorite is the sole opinion of Mama. No monetary compensation was received for the feature. If you have a product that Mama might absolutely love, send Mama one of your products. If she likes it, she might list it as a Mama’s Monday Favorite.

Mama’s Monday Favorite: Cascadian Farm Organic Honey Nut O’s

hunny nut os

A few weeks ago, my daily supply of fiber consisted of 3 scoops of organic oatmeal, a few scoops of organic granola, an organic apple, a serving of steamed organic broccoli, and a few navel oranges from the tree in my backyard. I had assessed the situation and determined that I needed to add more fiber to my diet. My biggest question was, “What type of fiber did I want to eat, and could I find a tasty, organic version of it?” I headed to my trusty Whole Foods Market to see what I could find.

My first stop in the store was the cereal aisle. I haven’t eaten cold cereal in a few years, but I know eating cereal is an easy way to increase my fiber intake. The cereal aisle in Whole Foods Market is not an ordinary cereal aisle. I couldn’t find any of the cereals that I ate when I was a child, and there were no ‘surprise toys’ or mystery packages neatly hidden inside the cereal box to tempt me. After spending nearly 10 minutes surveying my options, I choose Cascadian Farm Organic Honey Nut O’s.

And boy what a great decision that was. The Honey Nut O’s was a tasty blend of honey and almonds. The box contained 10.4 ounces of cereal. The box didn’t last past day 5. The taste of the Honey Nut O’s was pleasantly sweet but the sugar didn’t leave a sticky residue on my teeth like a box of sugary, sweet cereal with sticky marshmallows.

I didn’t miss receiving a free toy either.

– Mama

**Mama’s Monday Favorite is the sole opinion of Mama. No monetary compensation was received for the feature. If you have a product that Mama might absolutely love, send Mama one of your products. If she likes it, she might list it as a Mama’s Monday Favorite.

Lower Food Bills: Half a Pound Saved

Apparently the average American will waste approximately half a pound of food—equivalent to an average-sized cantaloupe—every single day! According to a new little video by Good.Is, more than 25% of all food available in the US is wasted every year, valued at about $136 billion when you count the food wasted in homes, by retail vendors, and on farms! That’s an enormous amount of wasted food—think of all of the mouths that could feed (if we saved just 5% of the waste, according to the video, it would feed all of those that go hungry in our country).

And it means wasted money, too. After all, unless you grow your own, food doesn’t come cheap for the average household. And disposing of it costs our nation a great deal as well. The video quotes a price tag of $1 billion just to get rid of wasted food annually.

That doesn’t include the environmental costs of wasted food, either. When food gets put into an oxygen-deprived landfill, it will sit there, creating methane gas in the process—a greenhouse gas that’s 21 times more potent than carbon dioxide in terms of its ability to trap heat in our atmosphere. It will cost our global economy significant funds to deal with the problem of climate change in the coming decades, so we should remember that when we throw away our food as well.
Practical ways to reduce your impact through wasted food:

  • Plan your meals: In other words, cook reasonable amounts for each meal, considering how much you and your family will eat over the next several days. If you can’t finish the food before it goes bad, cut back.
  • Save leftovers: When you do have leftovers, package them into individual meals (glass containers are best!) and freeze them if you can’t consume them within two days. This way you’ll have quick and easy meals for future lunches and dinners. I make a list of leftovers on a whiteboard posted on the fridge so that we all remember what’s in the fridge.
  • Compost wasted food: Whether you have a vermicompost bin like mine or a backyard compost bin, processing it at home in an aerobic (oxygen-rich) environment will help to reduce methane emissions. And you’ll have rich compost for your garden for free!

– Lucy

Dealing with Toxic Holiday Waste: Recycling E-Cast-Offs

We really scaled back on the number of gifts we gave this year in order to adjust to a smaller budget, but it was a very nice season and we enjoyed ourselves nonetheless.

That said, we’re still left with some items that need recycling now that the holiday is over. For instance, my husband received a new cell phone as a gift, and so we’re left with his old one. We weren’t exactly sure what to do with it until I did a little digging. Here’s what I found:

Donate your old phone to a charity or phone reuse campaign: Our old phone happens to still function fairly well (why did we need a new one you ask? Beats me), so a donation program is likely the way we will go. These programs allow you to give your old device away so that it can be used by someone else. In many cases, these old phones go to communities where it would otherwise be impossible to afford a new device. And when they connect communities, family members, or business women, it’s even better since a phone can truly be a lifeline. Here are some options:

Recycle your old phone: Of course, if you’ve dropped your phone in the toilet or run over it with the car, then you likely won’t be able to donate it to anyone. But there are still great programs to ensure these devices land in good hands. After all, like most electronics, cell phones can contain heavy metals and other nasty chemicals that would poison our planet if thrown into the landfill. So check out Earth911 to find an e-waste recycler in your area to be sure they’re handled properly. Many big box stores now offer recycling bins for PDAs, chargers, cell phones, and more right in their stores.

– Lucy

Really Savoring: Making the Most of Expensive Organic Chocolate Treats

“Don’t eat that so fast!” I caution. “These tiny nibbles of chocolate heaven cost me about $2 each!”

Given the cost, I’d better really taste them so as to not waste the experience. No rushing through this morsel!
I decided to splurge this holiday season and buy some Certified Organic, Fair Trade Certified chocolate treats for the family. I can’t afford to be buying organic or fair trade chocolate for all of our cocoa requirements at this point, but I figure now and then, for a treat, it’s a great way to be mindful of what goes into our treats and to honor the work being done by growers of cacao around the world.

Sadly, cacao, which is what cocoa and other chocolate products are made from, is a not-so-earth-friendly agricultural industry. To get the most from the land, many growers, big and small, clear existing forests to make room for cacao plants. But then the exposure to sun and loss of water from lack of undergrowth stresses the plants, so the farmers are required to heap on chemicals for nutrients and pest control, and use up enormous quantities of water to keep the plants well hydrated. This combination of overuse of water and chemicals degrades local ecosystems and may make the growers unwell, too.

Organically-grown cacao, on the other hand, is cultivated within an existing forest canopy, so the diversity of the forest is not lost. This also helps to reduce water loss due to evaporation, maintains an ecosystem for local wildlife, reduces the need for fertilizers and pest control, and prevents soil loss due to erosion. It’s the way nature intended chocolate to be grown, and is healthier for farmers, too.

Of course, all of this requires more work and yields smaller crops, hence the heftier price tags on organic chocolate. But during this, the season of giving, I’m happy to make the investment. Just wish I could afford it all year round.

– Lucy

Mama’s Monday Favorite: Mary’s Free-Range Organic Chicken

MarysOrgLogo Mama is a huge fan of Mary’s Free-Range Organic Chicken. Mary’s organic chicken:

  • Contains No Added Water
  • Is Gluten Free
  • Is fed a Vegetarian Diet
  • Contains No Preservatives
  • No Antibiotics Ever
  • Raised Without Added Hormones

But really, does all this matter? You bet it does. I had a friendly little ‘chicken-cookoff’ with a friend of mine who thinks organic chicken and regular chicken tastes the same. We both made baked chicken breasts (my kitchen), using the same ingredients but when we had our friends taste it, all but 1 of them liked mine better (and I think her husband, the lone voter was a little biased).

All of Mary’s chickens grow naturally with plenty of room to roam in a caring environment on ranches in sunny California. Mary’s Chickens are fed a high quality vegetable protein diet with no animal by-products or additives. Mary’s Chickens are never debeaked. < — Happy chickens come from California too!

Mary’s Free-Range Organic Air Chilled Chickens are processed and cooled individually using cold air, rather than the more commonly used method of placing the chickens in a communal bath of water. This air chilled method prevents the absorption of water, greatly reducing any potential of bacterial cross contamination.

– Mama

**Mama’s Monday Favorite is the sole opinion of Mama. No monetary compensation was received for the feature. If you have a product that Mama might absolutely love, send Mama one of your products. If she likes it, she might list it as a Mama’s Monday Favorite.

Lucy Goes Green

My name is Lucy, and I’m kind of a hippie.

I didn’t set out to be a green living mama. In fact, if you’d told me 10 years ago that I¹d be composting my leftovers, canning my own applesauce and convincing my kids that empty toilet paper rolls are the new Legos, I would have laughed my $200 jeans off at the thought. But little by little, I found myself making changes for the greener: I started making my own cleaning products when my daughter was born because the idea of all the chemicals in manufactured cleaners kind of freaked me out. I wanted to know where our food was coming from, so I started shopping farmers markets with a canvas tote slung over my arm. I took a sewing class after my son was born and fell in love with the idea of making things instead of buying them. I became an obsessive recycler who’s always on the prowl for abandoned egg cartons and empty glass jars. And now I’m the girl who’s trying to convince her husband that we really, really need our own little flock of chickens in the backyard.

So, yeah, I didn’t expect to end up living green, but I’m glad we did. The more I learn about the impact we have on the environment, the more I want to do my part to keep the planet healthy, and the more I want my children to understand how important it is for them to do their part, too.

In this blog, I’ll be sharing my favorite easy strategies for going green and giving real-mama feedback on what it’s like and what kind of effort is required to tackle living a more sustainable life. And I’m hoping to get lots of good ideas from all of you, too; what works, what doesn’t, what to try, what to skip. Let’s explore these greener pastures together.

– Lucy

Mama’s Monday Favorite: Cabernet Sauvignon Organic Wine

FREYorganicwine

Last night, the legendary rock band U2 performed at the Rose Bowl. Early Sunday morning, as I tinkered in my backyard garden, I could hear the Sound Technicians testing their instruments. I had a hunch that I’d be able to hear the concert later that night and looked forward to a fantastic experience. I invited a few friends to come over to join the festivities.

As the sounds of No Line on the Horizon, and With or Without You filled our ears, we opened a special bottle of wine to celebrate. Cabernet Sauvignon by Frey Vineyards was our wine of the night. We choose this wine because it is certified organic and fermented with yeast that has not been genetically engineered. The taste was fantastic. My only regret is that we only had one bottle.

Frey Vineyards is a third generation family owned winery. Their vineyards and winery are nestled on the slopes of the Redwood Valley A.V.A. (American Viticultural Area) in Mendocino County, California, at the headwaters of the Russian River. All of their wines are made with no added sulfites.

Enjoy responsibly!

– Mama

**Mama’s Monday Favorite is the sole opinion of Mama. No monetary compensation was received for the feature. If you have a product that Mama might absolutely love, send Mama one of your products. If she likes it, she might list it as a Mama’s Monday Favorite.

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