Yoga for Emotions

Use this handy sheet in emotional moments.  I designed this for kids’ use but adults will appreciate the simplicity.  Show your kids these tools so they will know how to reach for them on their own 🙂



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Loving Yourself Workshop

i-love-you-textSaturday  Feb 20, 2016
Evolution Studio 3521 London Rd, Ste B (below Active Health  Chiropractic)
$20 before Feb 1, $25 after

I believe that amazing things happen when we start from LOVE – being gentle and accepting creates lasting change!  We all need this!  Unacceptance is more prevalent than we realize – a poison in our culture that is at the forefront of so many mental, physical and spiritual health issues.

This will be a safe, introductory session.  No need to worry about getting too personal or deep among strangers!

Come work on this through: fun activities to generate perspective, tools that can impact negative thinking and connect to faith, exercises to love and heal your body.

Questions?  Reserve your spot: Or join via the Facebook event:

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Ten 30 Second Stress Reversers

breatheHow do you know you have stress?  Other than the fact that you are human, you can tell you have stress to release when you have these types of symptoms: breathing is shallow and quick, body is tense, headaches, quick to feel overwhelmed, digestion is off, the cranky monster visits more often, and you just generally just can’t feel settled – relaxation seems a stranger.

Just 30 seconds of effort can reverse this?   YES.  Every little bit helps – trains your system bit by bit.  Every action we do tells our nervous system how we want it to run, particularly intentional actions.  When we aren’t paying attention to what we are training our system, life’s go-go-go trains it for us  – but not where we want it for optimal wellness.  30 seconds of intentional effort in a healthier direction is not only better than nothing but much better than the rarer longer efforts (one hour yoga class twice a month).  While not as effective as my list of 12 Quick, Easy and Potent Stress Busters, because each one of those intentionally involves the body, mind and spirit, these below tools are good in the midst of holiday hustle and bustle.  Don’t believe they are potent enough to help you?  TRY ME!

  1. Water: Drink a full glass of water. Slowly, breathe, focus.
  2. Move: Stand up and activate your good energies by stretching tall, then walk briskly anywhere. OR Dance: For 30 seconds to whatever motivates you (Christmas tunes on radio? Or put on some Beastie Boys like we do at my house). Rock-out in full enjoyment like no one is watching.  This is seriously impactful!
  3. Nap: While I lived in Taiwan it was standard practice, when tired or stressed, to rest your head on your arms (while seated) and close your eyes for a quick “power” nap. This position also sends blood to your forebrain for some additional help.
  4. Connect: Close your eyes and imagine light coming in to each body part as you focus your breath there – head to foot.
  5. More breathing: Take 3 deep cleansing slow breaths – slow and quiet in through the nose and out your mouth when it wants to. Then let the next one come in slowly when it wants to, and repeat.
  6. Massage: Whether just getting you connected to your body or saving you from stress headaches, self-massage is awesome. In 30 seconds you can rub tender areas with thumb or heel of palm following the length of the muscle, roll on a tennis ball (so. good.), or hold a really tight and sore spot (trigger point) for 30 seconds – you’ll notice a release.
  7. Sound: Sound, and the lack of sound, can have mega effects on our state of mind. Sometimes quiet is too much of an uncomfortable stretch or we need some assistance in getting toward relaxation. Listen to some of a recording of CHIME music, with eyes closed (de-stimulating, do you see a theme?).  Here’s one:
  8. Smell something soothing: The olfactory sense is connected directly to our limbic system, the oldest part of our brain, and the part which responds to stress. Working directly with it, telling it, “Every little thing is gonna be alright” is the fastest key to reversing stress symptoms. I suggest keeping a bottle of essential oils handy (purse, pocket, car), preferably rose oil, frankincense or lavender. Sometimes artificial smells can give us a headache, but if you have Scentsy candles that have a soothing smell go ahead and light one.  Take a few quiet, deep sniffs (yes, that is breathing, again… anyone see a theme here?) until you feel a shift.
  9. Pray. REALLY. It’s more powerful in immediately shifting your attitude than you might care to admit or remember.  I, too, often forget to go right here.  Don’t worry about knowing WHO you are talking to or HOW to do it, just do it.
  10. Gratitude: Perhaps you’re sick of hearing about this, as everyone talks about it when the holidays approach. The last thing I feel like doing when I am cranky is stopping to be thankful, BUT it is AMAZING!  My kids love it too, sometimes even mid-tantrum – reminds them what they love.  So when you notice you are far from thankful, take 30 seconds to think of every little/big thing you are thankful for, here are some from our house to get you thinking:

* All the do-gooding that is done this time of year

* Being able to afford to give presents of any kind


* All the Christmas lights in our neighborhood

* Making it through that light while it was still green

* Singing

* Warm showers

* Frozen blueberries

See!  You are feeling better already!  Write them down – they will help you continue to feel generous and forgiving (the holidays makes us all temporarily insane).  If you can’t get past what you are frustrated about, then write it out first.


Just as potent as what you do is what you DON’T do.  Avoid these simple items to prevent excess stress this holiday season!  Even for 30 seconds less than you usually do….?

* Screen time:  Instead of jumping on Facebook, turning on the news or watching your favorite show before bed (which is not as relaxing or de-stressing as it may feel), do some yoga, read a book, or do some good breathing (yup, again).

* Sugar snacks and alcohol: Save it for all the holiday parties, on a daily basis find other ways to reward yourself, like a bath with lavender scented bath salts or other ideas seen here.

* Over-booking yourself: Obligation, over-generosity, wishful thinking, and so many fun things to do are a few reasons we over-extend ourselves this year.  But it isn’t necessary, no one is counting, and disappointment (amongst all the other glee) is good for you especially when it is for the goodness of your health.  Temporary or not, the holidays are not worth over-taxing your system and ability to enjoy yourself.

* Over-spend:  Even though that tax return is right around the corner, regular financial stress is bad enough and holiday spending is even more stress, but excess holiday spending to create the “perfect” holiday leaves you stressed long after the season as well.  I promise no one is else counting the dollars you spend, but you probably should!

* Ignoring your feelings: “It will all go away after the season is over,” can do more damage than good and is an awful way to spend your season of joy.  Talk little things over with your loved ones, journal the harder junk no one else needs to hear (but LET IT OUT please!), and contact your pastor or a counselor for the overwhelming issues.  Acknowledging these validates your SELF, releasing these allows you to tap into JOY.  It’s like a cup of hot cocoa, you can’t fill it up with more cocoa if the mug is already full of cold cocoa.

* Judging:  Love each other for who you are – family, friends, and that stranger who just bought that last sweater you really wanted.

Reading this took more than 30 seconds, but I hope you feel inspired.  Happy Healthy Holidays to you and yours from BaredFeet!

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Rewarding Yourself Well

We all deserve rewards (heck, most of us deserve A-wards).  It is in every creature’s nature to respond to the reward system because they help in survival, growth, joy and achievement.  But not all rewards are created equal.  Think about what you typically do to reward a hard-day’s work.  I’m guessing it is either with computer/TV or sugar/alcohol.  Are the effects of these rewards all positive and long term?  I’ll answer for you, they are not.  They are quick rewards with a little bit of naughty which adds to the satisfaction factor, but they are harmful to your brain, body, emotions (train to repress and regress), and sleep.

WIN_20151211_144759 (2)Instead?  Love yourself enough to start generating a list of go-to rewards to mix in your normal routine and keep it healthier, for when stress hits, or for giving yourself special rewards for special occasions.  You can find things that give you the same feeling of reward but last longer and are not damaging.

The most important part of the reward system, however, is your VALIDATION of it.  So no matter what ends up on your reward list whenever you implement one luxuriate in it – give yourself a pat on the back at the same time.

I challenged myself for the photo with this post to give myself a visible double thumbs up (full smile).  Wow, it’s hard but powerfully satisfying.  In addition to coming up with your reward list I challenge you to look in the mirror and give yourself a smiling double-thumbs up.  Send me pics – I’d LOVE it!

Here are some ideas to get you started on your list!

  1. Save – Delayed gratification is an important skill to develop. Save some money for something special for yourself!  Of course retail therapy is fun, but when shopping reaches that point it is not beneficial for your health or your pocketbook (or probably your marriage…).  This is a much healthier way to satisfy that innate need to “have”.
  2. Bath – Grab your favorite bath salts!
  3. Spa day – Pedicure, haircut, massage, you decide!
  4. Play time – Even if you don’t feel like this you will ALWAYS be glad you made yourself get some play time – this time without the kids (typically I advise to play with them). Find YOUR way to play (no screen): coloring books (they make great grown up versions now), sports, go to the park, visit a youthful touristy place (carousel!), or have good sex with your spouse. Exercise is amazing reward when you approach it as such.
  5. New skill – Take a class on something you’ve wanted to learn, or read a book or YouTube course.
  6. Water! – Get sparkling bottled water that is all yours, to make this essential item, which we all need more of, a reward.  I like to do this and write “Mom” on it.
  7. READ – Find a book. Once you are into it you’ll binge read instead of binge Netflix-ing.  Choose something inappropriate for kids (murder mysteries, etc) to up the satisfaction factor.
  8. Take in the arts! – Go to the museum, check out the newest art exhibit, see a theatre show, or go see some music.
  9. Redecorate – YOUR space.
  10. Healthy snacks – Look, eating as a reward SHOULD be done. All eating is a reward or we would not eat.  But just as reward eating doesn’t have to mean tons of sugar, eating healthy doesn’t have to mean yuck-o.  Choosing something nostalgic (Popcorn is huge in our house), or purchasing something that is “Mine” (jalapeno flavored GMO-free corn chips or cinnamon applesauce).  You know what you shouldn’t eat, but here’s a reminder: avoid sugar, heavily processed foods, and transfats.  Do eat fruits, veggies, and good proteins = real food!


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Top No-Sugar Added Quick Snacks

One of my group sugar cleanse participants asked for adult no-sugar-added snacks and it was such a good idea I decided to post it.  These are quick and easy suggestions (there may be better snack ideas but less quick or affordable) for when you have cravings or you are on the go.  You’ll see a lot of fiber, fruit, fat and protein here – the best snacks in my opinion.  Fat is an extremely important part of our diet (unless it is trans fats), because fats can help us guard against stress.  It is too much sugar that creates body fat.  (Note that I am not affiliated with any of these referenced websites, they just had easy no-sugar recipes formatted nicely)

  1. Corn Chips – (organic so GMO-free) with salsa (, sour cream (or greek yogurt!) and/or guacamole (
  2. Toast! Add avocado, PB, or just really good butter to your no-sugar added loaf (Angelic Bakery has some!).  Everyone loves toast.  Satisfies me every time.
  3. Crackers and Cheese. We love the Blue Diamond Rice Crackers, and Westby cheese or local chevre!  Watch your crackers for added sugar – yuck man.
  4. Fruit – Frozen fruits are consumed twice daily around my house. It is the only way we can hold onto fruits in bulk.  And they are awesome.  A frozen banana is like a popsicle.  Ice is God’s gift to fruit.    Regular fruit is amazing too, but I’m just sayin’, freeze it!  Add sugar free cashew butter with your apples or bananas to make a complete snack.
  5. Yogurt – again, plain yogurt is the only one with no sugar. It’s a protein vitamin, good-for-your-gut versatile snack.  Use it to make smoothies (speaking of fruit).  Use it instead of milk with your cereal.  Add fruit to it.  Or add carob powder.  Or just slobber it all over your face like my kids do.
  6. Popcorn! (organic so it is GMO-free) I won’t tell you what happens to popcorn in our house, because you know how easy it is to eat. Skip microwave popcorn and learn to kettle cook it or use a popper (even better).  Then use one of these recipes to get some new flavors (find a no-sugar added one during the cleanse!).  I was going to just post one, but this website was too cool:
  7. Cereal will always be the best, standby snack. Found your sugar-free version yet?  I suggest you get on it.  We add raisins, molasses and nuts to our cereal.
  8. I already shared my sugar-free granola bars recipe but here it is again!  Here’s another recipe that my daughter can make herself!
  9. Pretzels – Does anyone else find pretzels super satisfying? The salt, the bread – they feel guilty.  But they aren’t… typically.  I love spelt pretzels – easier on the intestines than the wheat is.  They shouldn’t have sugar either.  Eat these with some fibrous carrot sticks or other raw veggies, and dip them in hummus (below) and you’ve got a solid snack.
  10. Hummus – have you gotten on board the hummus train yet? Good hummus and fresh sweet peppers is what they must eat in heaven.  Here’s a base hummus recipe from Ina Garten:
  11. Pumpkin seeds – Chewing these eliminates stress in multiple ways methinks. The need to work harder at grinding them releases my crankiness, and the specific vitamins they have – lots of the essential nutrients, zinc, protein and iron – combat stress and low blood sugar.  Make your own trail mix with nuts, raisins (or dry your own fruit so you can have some other options without sugar) and those pumpkin seeds.
  12. Refrigerator pickles – Here’s another good-for-your-gut probiotic recipe. If you like pickles you’ll love making your own even more.  They add so many yucky things to store-bought pickles and the process of making your own is uber-exciting.  I am not a pickle lover by nature, but I will heartily consume my hubby’s pickles and get involved in the process.  This item on the list takes the longest to prepare, but is worth it!
  13. Hard boiled Eggs – Boil a dozen eggs at the beginning of the week and you have a handy snack all week. You can make them salty, whip them into deviled eggs, or eat them with avocado!  Have some leftover at the end of the week, here are some interesting ways to use up hard boiled eggs (I didn’t check all these for sugar content):
  14. Ants on a Log – Healthy, good, easy does not have to be just for kids anymore!
  15. PB and J – I am currently on a PB and J binge. I love lazy snacks.  Just Local Food carries a local jelly producer that uses fruit only and not sugar to make their jelly.  Get a natural PB (most peanut butters, yes, add crazy sugar!) and relive your childhood.
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Helping Kids Fall Asleep: 10 Bedtime Tools

sleepbabyGot a wiggler or a worrier who cannot settle down to sleep or who wakes frequently in the night?  Check out this list of ideas and pick one or two to add to your toolbox, as appropriate for your child’s age and personality, and get him/her sleeping soundly sooner.

  1. Routine – You’ve heard this from every source on children and sleep but it really makes a difference. It helps train my daughter’s nervous system and it mentally helps prepare my son.  Here is our typical routine for our older children: bath and undies (they don’t sleep in PJs), teeth brush and potty, stories and snack, prayer, lights out with music and sleepy spray.  For my one year old son, he takes a bath and brushes teeth with my daughter, hangs out while we read books, says “Good Night” to everyone, gets a fresh diaper and pjs, and nurses with Momma while listening to music and white noise.
  2. Get in body, lower the better – When we are overtired, excited or stressed our energy tends to be focused in our heads and chest. When we are calm and peaceful our energy resides lower in our body.  Bringing awareness to our lower body and moving energy out of our brains settles our nervous system and makes it easier to settle down.  This is called GROUNDING, here are some ideas: Wiggle toes hard and fast then relax, Momma taps on their leg or foot and child counts the number of taps, Massage – light sweeping or deeper rubs from top to bottom or just focus on feet.  I have some great sleepy yoga routines for infants that would work on any child – contact me for a lesson!
  3. “Magic” – Using imagination and INTENTION helps their whole self get involved in welcoming sleep and it makes it fun: use essential oils (Lavender, Loving Care), use a wand to sprinkle sleeping powder (ask them to tell you what it looks like), swish the yuckies out of their bubble (this is called fluffing the aura – doesn’t matter what the yuckies are), feel the light come in and send the yuckies out (ask them to tell you where you missed some). When I do this last one myself I usually start breathing light into my own body from head to toe and am asleep by the time I reach my shoulders.
  4. Pray – Prayer teaches them to rely on themselves by letting God take the problems! Ask them to pray for help getting the words out of their head, having good dreams, or whatever they are struggling with.
  5. Music – We sing lullabies at my house and each kid has sleep music that they use nightly. The same sound used regularly trains the muscles and the brain to sleep.
  6. Guided meditation stories – There are some great ones out there, sound and voice is a potent force. Here is one from YouTube:
  7. Breath – Slowing down breathing, using breath to quiet the mind and letting more oxygen in is a surefire way to help your child get ready to sleep. Sleepy meditation: close your eyes, listen to your breath in the silence and return to the breath when words come in.  Also, taking five slow deep breaths with sighs help reverse the stress levels.
  8. Sensory – Giving the brain a task and involving the senses brings them to the present. Get them to see five things in their room, share five sounds they hear, do they smell anything?  Have a sip of water, feel their body on the bed.  Help them focus on these.
  9. Transition – Simple review of the day. Bury the words under their pillow/bed.  Nothing else matters now except bedtime.  Remind them that sleep doesn’t matter as much as rest. Sometimes the pressure to sleep is more stressful.
  10. Remember When They Were Babies – Your child is the same child as when they were an infant.  What tools did they need to calm down or get to sleep with they were an infant?  Find a way to mimic or recreate those tools.

Does your child have nightmares or night terrors that interfere with her rest and your sanity?  Here are some suggestions – you do what you feel is best and most comfortable for you and your child.

First of all night terrors, this good definition from, are “when your child suddenly becomes very agitated while in a state of deep sleep. A night terror can last from a few minutes up to 40 minutes.  Children having night terrors might sit or stand up, shake, move around, and cry or scream loudly. They might look like they’re in extreme panic. A child having a night terror is inconsolable and won’t respond to soothing or comforting.  During a night terror, your child’s eyes might be open. Children having night terrors might be moving and thrashing around, but they’re actually still in a state of deep sleep.  Night terrors can run in families, so there might be a genetic component to whether children will experience them.  Night terrors are natural events associated with the normal development of sleep in children.”

What to do?  Short answer: nothing.   Though they seem scary they aren’t directly harmful and children don’t remember them.

What could you do?  Don’t wake them, it makes them harder to settle down, but comfort them.  If you wanted to you could find a reiki or EFT practitioner to support their system or find a way to heal from them.  You can also implement flower essences or essential oils during the event or later on.  We often use Rescue Remedy in a pinch, but there are essences that can bring balance to this energy so they happen less often or not at all.

The first thing I suggest, for both nightmares and night terrors, is start being aware of triggers.  Do they happen more often when your child is overtired, has had too much sugar, or there is stress in the house?  Then take preventative measures.  My daughter is sure to have them if she has had any amount of corn syrup.

I hope these suggestions help bring more peace and sleep to your family.  If you have more questions please contact me!

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“Healthy” Halloween?

candyThe American Heart Association (AHA) recommends no more than 9 teaspoons (38 grams) of added sugar per day for men, and 6 teaspoons (25 grams) per day for women. The AHA limits for children vary depending on their age and caloric needs, but range between 3-6 teaspoons (12 – 25 grams) per day.

Why?  Dr. Mercola states, “The main problem with sugar, and processed fructose in particular, is the fact that your liver has a very limited capacity to metabolize it. According to Dr. Lustig, you can safely metabolize about six teaspoons of added sugar per day. As mentioned, the average American consumes 20 teaspoons of added sugar a day. All that excess sugar is metabolized into body fat, and leads to all of the chronic metabolic diseases we struggle with, including but not limited to: Type 2 diabetes, Cardiovascular disease, Hypertension (high blood pressure), Dementia, Cancer.”  Our body struggles to process it.

Though some professionals disagree, it’s not just the fat type, calories and sugar numbers that makes something healthy.  It’s the ingredients – where did the fat come from?  What kind of sugar?  And what else is in there that is simply not food?

Greenopedia says it harshly but well, “Yes, candy made from truly natural ingredients can still lead to cavities and sugar-related health issues. But at the very least, these healthier ingredients are safer than the artificial junk found in traditional candy. Natural candy also tastes just as good, if not better, than the harmful crap.  Next time you or the kids have a sugar craving, try some healthier versions of your favorite candy and see if you can tell the difference. You may have trouble finding healthier candy at your regular supermarket, but you should have no problem finding it in a health food store or online.”

So Halloween…. Where we consume much more sugar than usual.  What is wrong with indulging, bingeing just once a year?  Nothing really.  But the holiday stretches much further than one day, it trains our children that candy is GOD and it tempts the adults – feeding the addiction that does not release us from a path of sickness.  The plus side of this is it is a great opportunity to educate ourselves and our children on better choices while STILL indulging!


If you are looking for “healthier sugar” (I use quotations because health is a vague term with LOTS of disagreements) options for this Halloween here are some ideas.

First, read ingredient labels.  Avoid: high fructose corn syrup, partially hydrogenated oils, food coloring (these first three are the ones my family noticeably responds to), soy, GMOs (buy organic!), artificial ingredients, or ideally any generic terms like “natural flavors”.  This is a lot and near impossible when it comes to candy.  If you are gluten or dairy free there are even more ingredients to watch for!  Yikes!

I went through all the candy in the local grocery stores for you… well most of it.  Here are my suggestions for a “healthier” lower sugar Halloween, another words, I’d let my kids eat this stuff (we do gluten tolerably) though one serving of these is their total daily limit for sugar:

  1. Sundrops over M&Ms or Skittles
  2. Fair Trade Dark Chocolate – there are lots of choices. (Most chocolate candy, it turns out, is better than any other candy, ingredient-wise and sugar-wise. Most Hershey products have a low list of ingredients).  I have to say I dislike chocolate for its caffeine – it is also addictive.  I prefer carob – but good luck finding it in packaged products!
  3. Organic suckers (Yummy Organic makes some) over Dum Dum suckers or Tootsie pops.
  4. Surf Sweets Gummy Gears over any other gummies.
  5. Just because it has peanuts in it does NOT make it a good option. Brachs Double Dipped Peanuts are great though!
  6. For Peanut Butter Cups (these are my favorite, but Reese’s is disgusting) try Newman’s Own or Theo.
  7. Granola bars make me angry. There are none on the market that I consider good.  Oskri brand (found at our food co-op here in town) makes some bars that use rice syrup, coconut and real fruit, and Pure Bars use dates!  Both of their consistencies are not your typical granola bar texture though.
  8. Panda Licorice products uses molasses as a sweetener!
  9. Go Organic hard candies are low in sugar and have decent ingredients.

If looking to avoid sugar all together for Halloween – you deserve an award.  We all know it isn’t good, even if it is just on special occasions – let’s set an example! Here are some no sugar options

  1. Fruit juice or date sweetened foods or dates like Clif Zfruit Ropes. My kids LOVE these.
  2. Fruits and nuts: boxes of raisins, trail mix (minus the chocolate if you can but watch the dried fruit for lots of sugar!), 100% juice boxes
  3. Bottles of water
  4. Non-candy foods: Cheese Sticks, Goldfish (whole wheat) Crackers, Pretzels
  5. Novelties – bead necklaces, glow in the dark sticks, stickers, pencils, little critters, costume stuff (fang teeth), PlayDoh, bouncy balls, play coins, bubbles
  6. Toothbrushes!

I hope this information encourages you to make thoughtful choices any time of the year in the health of you and your family.  However you move forward this Halloween I hope you have fun and feel great.  Boo!




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Four Week Group Supported Sugar Cleanse! Starts Nov 1, 2015


Want to feel better and have more energy? sugarSugar cravings feel out of control? Appreciate
group support in cutting out sugar? Learn why sugar is so unhealthy for you, where to find it and how to live without it!

BaredFeet will offer recipes, tips and successes, and a place to share your struggles. We’ll have two potlucks, but otherwise will only connect on Facebook. (don’t live near EC? Have a friend join with you and commune during our potluck, or video chat during the potluck!)

The goal is not necessarily to totally eliminate sugar, the goal is for each participant to learn about the impact of sugar, and the benefits of not eating it, and to determine their own level of commitment in 4 weeks. Some may be able to eliminate all carbs and keep it that way, most can at least eliminate high-fructose corn syrup or sodas in time to cleanse for the holidays.

INTERESTED in JOINING? Everyone is welcome!
1. The event will be happening via Facebook.  Join the event at this link:

2. If you don’t have a Facebook account, and don’t want one, please email immediately with your interest and you can participate that way!


Here’s a hint at what to expect when we start on Sunday, Nov 1.

  • Mondays – week’s goal
  • Tuesdays and Thursdays – articles and helpful information
  • Wednesdays and Fridays – recipes
  • Saturdays – we share our struggles
  • Sundays – we share our successes
    Note that we start on a Sunday, a success day – to set the focus for the duration!


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10 Ideas for Healthy Lunchboxes Your Kids Will Eat

I really want to support the public school lunch program, but with my children’s sensitivities, my particular views on health and my parental need to make sure they eat enough, instead of being the mom who comes in and asks to read every ingredient label and drills them on their intake, I pack my kids lunches.  No matter what they have for lunch at school, though, I worry about my girls not eating it all – eating only the Cheesepuffs and cookie (even if it is sugar and wheat free) I put in their box and leaving the rest.  It’s a hard task for them to socialize and eat on their own in typically just twenty minutes.  I want my children’s energy, mood and mental clarity to be sustained at school, I prefer not to have a cranky kid after school, and I don’t want them to get bored with their lunch (“peanut-butter and jelly again?!”).  These lunchbox ideas below will ensure their belly is full, the box is empty and they are nourished.  They also won’t take much time or planning to implement.  Try them with your kids!20151020_162952

  1. 1. Granola bars: We know they will eat them, but they are expensive and there are very few with ingredients I approve of (sugar). I finally found a super easy recipe that makes non-crumbly, healthy granola bars.  I will surely have these on hand all the time!  (Here’s an even easier one – no bake:

Snackin’ Granola Bars (per The Quaker Oats Wholegrain Cookbook)

3 ½ cups oats                                  1 cup raisins                                              1 cup chopped nuts

2/3 cup butter, melted                    ½ to ¾ cup honey or maple syrup         1 egg, beaten

½ tsp vanilla                                  ½ tsp salt

Combine all the ingredients, mix well.  Press firmly into well-greased 13×9 inch glass pan.  Bake in preheated oven (300°F) about 30 minutes.  Cool; cut into bars.  Store in tightly covered container in cool dry place for refrigerator. Variations: add shredded coconut, carob powder (over chocolate chips), coconut oil instead of butter, nut butter added, or seeds!  I add a ¼ cup of flour to help ensure non-crumbly-ness.

  1. lunchboxideasYogurt: We all know how much kids love yogurt and it is a great option for lunches, but opt for the plain yogurt (only sugar-free route) and add fruit instead (frozen fruit keeps the yogurt cold too!)
  1. Vary the sandwich:
  • Breads – Vary up the bread to find options with better nutrition: English muffins, sourdough, tortilla wraps, rice cakes… just check the ingredient list to make sure they are free of heavy sugars and artificial ingredients. Corn bread may be a nice way to mix in some veggies (cut green pepper and whole corn can be added) and is quick to whip up:

Corn Bread (per Better Homes and Gardens)

3/4 cup – yellow cornmeal*
1 cup – flour
2-3 Tablespoons – sweetener (I use maple syrup)
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon – salt
1 Tablespoon butter
2 eggs, beaten
1 cup milk
1/4 cup oil or melted butter

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.  In medium bowl stir together flour, cornmeal, sweetener, baking powder and salt.  Set aside.    Add butter  to cast-iron skillet and place in oven about 3 minutes.  Swirl butter in pan to coat bottom and sides of pan.  In a small bowl combine eggs, milk and oil.  Add all at once to flour mixture.  Stir just until moistened.  Pour batter into hot skillet.  Bake for 15-20 minutes or until a wooden toothpick comes clean.* Use Certified Organic Cornmeal to avoid GMOs.

  •  Bean spreads – Vary up the peanut butter with bean spreads, including hummus. Here is a recipe for a great white bean sandwich:

Smashed White Bean and Avocado Sandwich (per Culinary Colleen)

2 15-oz cans white beans, rinsed/drained               2 T olive oil

Juice of half a lemon                                                Salt & pepper, to taste

8 slices multigrain bread, toasted           1 small red onion, thinly sliced

1 cucumber, thinly sliced                         2 avocados, pitted/thinly sliced

5 ounces arugula or sprouts (or kale or spinach!)

Combine the beans, olive oil, and lemon juice in a medium bowl. Roughly mash until it comes together but is still a little chunky. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Divide the bean mixture among four slices of the bread, spreading in a single layer. Top each with some red onion, sliced cucumber, avocado, and arugula or sprouts. Season with additional salt and pepper. Top with the remaining slices of bread and serve.

  • PB&J alternates – Instead of PB&J try tahini (sesame seed butter) and honey! Or almond butter and apple butter/slices!
  • Burrito – Biggest mealtime hit in my family is refried beans and cheese on a wrap. You can brown it briefly in safflower oil or send it uncooked.  Sneak in something green.
  • What other foods do they love that you can put on a sandwich? Avocado? Bacon? Pesto? Olives?
  1. Sprouts: Sprouts are a great way to add packed protein to kids’ lunches, and, believe it or not, they love them. Pack them on the side or pile on a turkey sandwich.  You can buy them but they are super easy and affordable to sprout yourself (and an educational tool for your kids).
  1. Hard-boiled Eggs: Don’t forget this quick way to get heavy vitamins in their foods. Boil extra eggs on Monday morning and you’ll have some for the whole week.
  1. Vegetables: How to make sure kids eat their veggies?
  • Cucumbers and bell peppers are always a hit.
  • Many kids love dipping – try ranch or hummus with raw veggies.
  • Try shredding broccoli/cauliflower on their turkey sandwich or mix them into leftovers.
  • There are great dehydrated veggie packs available.
  • My kids also think frozen veggies are a treat – pack the thermos with ‘em.
  • Puree leftover soups
  1. Fruit: I know, kids already love fruit but I couldn’t help but share this recipe for homemade, healthy fruit leather.

Fruit Leather (per Ball’s Blue Book Guide to Preserving):

Apples, apricots, berries (all kinds), cherries, nectarines, peaches, pears, pineapple and plums make excellent fruit leathers.  Bananas are wonderful blended with other fruits for a smooth, naturally sweet, finished product.  Fresh fruit in season has the best flavor; however, to not overlook canned or frozen fruits which may be used any time of the year.  Wash fruit; cut away blemished areas; peel, if necessary; remove pits or seeds.  Puree fruit in a blender until smooth.  If too thick, thin with a little water or fruit juice.  Fruits that oxidize (apples, nectarines, peaches and pears) should be heated to 190°F and allowed to cool before proceeding.  Cover drying trays with heavy, food-grade plastic wrap or use specifically designed sheets that come with most dehydrators.  Spread puree evenly, about 1/8 inch think in the center to ¼ inch think at the edges, on dehydrator trays.  Dry at 135°F until fruit puree feels pliable and leather like.  Check center to be sure there are no sticky spots.  Roll jelly-roll style, while still warm; cut in pieces and seal securely in plastic wrap.  Store fruit leather in home canning jars for long-term storage.

  1. Rice! Easy to cook in large batches.  Here is a fun way to use it.

Rice Balls:

Start with what you want on the inside – veggies or fish, avocado or cilantro, and gather it into a tiny ball.  Wet leftover brown rice or cook fresh white sticky rice and wrap the rice around the inside ball.  Optional: roll it in sesame seeds.  Then wrap nori around it (kids love seaweed). Include soy sauce or Bragg’s Aminos for dipping.

  1. Asian Peanut Noodles: Here is a great menu item for kids who like pasta.

Boil your favorite noodle (brown rice spaghetti noodles work great), rise them cold.  Shred some carrots and cucumber.  Mix peanut butter, soy sauce, rice vinegar and a little bit of honey together.  Let the kids eat them separate or mix them all up on their own in their lunchbox.  They can also practice their chopstick skills if they like.

  1. Personalize: The key is to pack the way you know your kid will eat. One of my daughters will only eat her sandwich in parts – each food by itself.  My other daughter eats, for example, bread with bean spread and lettuce, but the cucumbers on the side.  Cut up things into bites, and add a toothpick for fun.  Celery at my house is never eaten when cut in strips, but when cut into nibblets they gobble them up!

Now to put it all together!  When packing lunches, pick:

  • 1 “growing” food (grain and protein)
  • 1 fruit
  • 1 veggie, and
  • 1 “fun” food to fill in the gaps: pretzels, muffin/scone (these store well, too), corn chips, trail mix, extra fruit or veg, or extra protein (e.g. beef sticks).
  • Remember that legumes (green beans, corn, peas, lentils, beans, peanuts) are part of a complete protein when put with a grain.
  • Drinks? WATER!  It’s all they need.  They’ll be thirsty.

May these ideas inspire you.  I hope you’ll try them and share how your kids do with their lunches.

Great nutrition is so important, and an easy preventative measure for so many other troubles for our kiddos.  I’ve decided, in order to offer myself some more security, to do two other things with their lunches (which I hope I shouldn’t need to do for very long).  I’m going to put little wooden numbers in my youngest daughter’s box so she knows which item to eat first (most important), second, etc.  I am also going to buy my children’s health by offering them a penny for each day they return with an empty box.  I think they may get wealthy, in more ways than one.

Update 12/7/16:  Summer sausage, nitrate free, became a happy addition for my kids.  I have also been using frozen baby teethers to keep their lunches cold.

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What Do You Choose?

choice“What do you choose?” has been the mantra, growing in size, for myself, and my family, or at least all of 2015.  I’d like to share with you what I’ve been learning – how simply being aware of CHOICE can drastically change your daily life.

Here is what we will be looking at:

  1. Every moment has choices.
  2. Why we unconsciously don’t want to make better choices.
  3. How awareness can help you make the most optimal choices.
  4. How we respond to our choices is just as impactful as the choices we make.

Every moment has choices
Each action we take, or word we say (or not), is a choice!  This is empowering because it means what lies before us is a lot more in our power than we may think – our power lies in the now.

I struggle to make good choices in the moment.  I am not alone in my struggle with this process.  My almost five year old has been learning that each choice has natural consequences, and to choose something sometimes requires prior planning and effort.  I see all the children in my life in the choice making process — as an ongoing battle.  I witness my adult relatives making choices in their health that effect more people than they realize.  My spouse and I sigh in frustration as we clean the kitchen yet again.  Do you struggle some days with: “Why did I just do that?” or “Why do I have to do everything around here?” or “I don’t like yelling at my kids.”  Taking a deep breath is easier said than done.  So often taking a millisecond to make the smarter choice does NOT sound appealing or seem an option.

Optimal choices?
As with all things that pass through my brain, I focus my thinking on choice as a health and happiness issue.  I see so many ways that a simple choice, either immediate or long-term, could (often easily) bring more health and happiness to myself and my family — and yet I watch myself not take those actions.  I choose instead: the harder way, the negative, the more stress, the fighting stance.  I see my daughter wanting one thing so badly and almost beyond her control choosing to serve the time and lose the prize, which is such an exhausting battle.  Why?  What is the reasoning behind some of our not-so-optimal choices?

The immediate and most obvious answer to why we don’t make certain choices that could better our health and happiness may be that we just don’t know better.  We aren’t aware, we aren’t awake, we aren’t ready or willing to see or haven’t seen.  But I don’t think that excuses us from learning in each moment.  So I encourage you to be open to more, to the gentlest path, and trust that there is so much more than you know now.  This is why I and so many others share wisdom, why we all must share our personal wisdom, with an open mind – because we cannot as an individual know it all.

Another reason, almost as obvious, that we make poor choices, is the fact that we are human.  We make mistakes.  As great as our species is, the amount of amazing, positive strides we have taken, the word human-ness still and always conjures up feelings of inadequacy and failure.  (This notion had Easter hit me hard this year – so many human choices made in that story.  So much of Jesus’ life I could not imagine choosing.)  This human-ness is not an excuse either, though, for we don’t want to use it to allow us to keep making mistakes or to keep us from shining our brightest.  Love allows us to grow, fear keeps us still.

A last reason we make choices we aren’t proud of is one that we hide behind.  We tell ourselves “I don’t have time”, “It doesn’t work I’ve tried,” “It is too hard/scary”, “It’s not my fault they are the problem,” and “Why should I work so hard and not others?”  This is our protective ego, looking out for self with familiarity.  The truth, what we don’t want to admit, is there is something else that each of our choices gives us that is somehow more important than the choices we don’t make: comfort, belonging, self-validation, we can remain a victim, we don’t have to change, we want what we want, we can be in control, avoidance of the scary realization that we have more responsibility for the whole of our life than we want to admit or work for, and avoiding whatever the alternate choice brings – because it is scary, even if good.

Boo.  I want more health and happiness for myself and my family, I want it for you and your family.  So here I am.

I don’t want to discredit some of those things our less-noble choices give us that are valuable to our ego, but simply want to bring light to the fact that they are not typically the most selfless acts and that there are more than likely new healthier options to give us the same benefits – that’s why those choices don’t sit with us right and why we know deep down “we should have” done better.  I yell at my kids because it works, but it doesn’t work better.  I eat chocolate because it’s enjoyment relaxes me, but it doesn’t give me the most ideal benefits.

I challenge… no, too confrontational… I implore, encourage and motivate and support, you (along with myself) to meet your spirit in your choices and let it grow and shine as it truly wants to.

Start to grow an awareness of your choices moment by moment  – in your household, your job, your children, dinner, how you communicate….

  1. Notice what you are choosing in each moment (start with one moment a day)
  2. Watch HOW you have chosen it – fully or not?
  3. Is that choice an investment in the past, now, or later?
  4. Remind yourself WHY or even THAT you chose it. Forgive, let go, take care, make effort, learn over and over and over.  And be thankful for the choices you are proud of.

What happens?

Your Perspective – shifts.

It is all there is.   Our perspective is what makes us different from everyone else, and is what makes our version ‘our truth’ not ‘the truth’.  When it shifts, the choice we thought was bad is forgivable or even right, or the choice we thought was great was really self-serving and only temporary, or we see another choice all together, or we reaffirm in a motivating way all the places we desire better choices, or maybe we simply see that we weren’t owning our choices in a positive way.

Help make better choices to deepen your shift:

  • Own your choices with a perspective of “for the most optimal health and happiness of all”.
  • Be the one to step out and set the example.
  • Not “why me” but “of course me”.
  • Make an effort to best achieve each choice
  • Make a small change for the better: get up five minutes earlier or got to bed five min early, let your kid win one battle that really doesn’t matter in the big picture.
  • Stick to a commitment you don’t want to.
  • Wear a smile on your way to work.
  • Research alternate healing.
  • Take a relaxing bath.
  • Take another angle when looking at your tot’s/teen’s behavior.

What DO you choose? What kind of person are you telling the world and your loved ones that you are through your choices in each moment and your reaction to those choices?  YOU CAN take ownership for your choices!  Every moment – with awareness, one by one!  One moment can set off a chain-reaction of more “best” choices.  Pray about yours, and your family’s, daily choices – support is there if you look.  I hope your days get easier and you find confidence in yourself.  I hope you get a fresh perspective that shows you how great life is.

I’ve had another choice mantra above my desk for the past seven years that has said “Do it fully or don’t do it at all,” which reminds me of the fact that I have a choice on not only what I spend my time on but how.  I struggle sometimes to remember that I chose to do certain things and yet I complain about them.  I forget that there in some circumstances there is another choice that works for everyone’s better benefit and I pick the one that serves my own needs.  I am constantly in discussion with myself over which is more important in my daily actions and relations: the immediate or the long-term.  I don’t always pick the peaceful, healthy choice but I pick the comforting habit.  I choose now to raise my choice awareness, and start making peaceful, loving choices that are not just for myself – because I know we all deserve better and this one act can help make the world a better place.  I know I’ll make mistakes along the way, but I also know that a simple awareness and desire will keep me heading in the direction that creates the most light.

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