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Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Gratitude Made Easy

'Tis the season to practice gratitude.  But when times are hard, family and friends busy with other obligations, or life doesn't seem to be treating you fairly, mustering up some gratitude seems like another difficulty to overcome.  Even if you are in a funk or not feeling the gratitude of the season, there are simple ways you can cultivate gratitude in your life.  Try these easy steps to start feeling more grateful and relax into the season.  

Be present.  So much of what stresses us out or makes us feel unsatisfied is caused by the worry and anxiety in our head.  The "what ifs" or dwelling on comparing your circumstances to another's can take you into a whole world of misery.  But if you stop to breathe, look around, and connect with what is right in front of you in this moment, there is likely something to be grateful for.  Maybe it's as simple as a hot cup of coffee or the roof that you are sitting under.  It's there at this moment, right now, and you can feel gratitude in the present.  See if you can be present several times each day to see what you can feel gratitude for in the moment.

Walk the walk, talk the talk.  Being grateful is a way of being.  Smile when you meet others.  Say "thank you" often.  Talk about what you are fortunate for or abundant in ("I am so fortunate to have missed the traffic today," for example).  Look around and share your thoughts on your gifts and blessings for the day!  "What a gift the bright sun is."  Language and behavior are powerful.  Bring them into your life as tools for cultivating more gratitude.


Embrace the bad times.  Being grateful doesn't mean sweeping your troubles under the rug or burying the past.  Remembering the rough spots is a powerful way to cultivate a gratitude p in a challenging time, you can find those comparisons to bring up a sense of gratitude.  We all know the "every cloud has a silver lining" saying but that isn't always helpful in the moment but often more so in hindsight.  Instead, look at the moment you are in and see how it inspires its own gratitude for what it's not.


Cultivating a gratitude practice is just that - a practice.  It takes time and effort, but each time you work at it, you will see results!

Monday, November 17, 2014

10 Tips for Surviving the Holidays, Naturally

The holiday season is here, along with never-ending to-do lists, demands on your time and attention, and the stress that seems inherent in the festivities.  So how do we stay both well and sane, naturally, and truly enjoy the holidays?  Here are some of our favorite holistic suggestions! 

  1. Keep it simple.  Hosting a large crowd for the holidays?  No need for an elaborate eight-course gourmet feast.  Stick to simple basics and do them really well.  Real food doesn't need to be fancy to be good.  Impress your family with some easy but elegant food.  For example, try out these Bacon Wrapped Figs as a holiday appetizer or this Simple Spinach and Sausage Strata for a Christmas morning brunch.
  2. Take Care of Yourself and Your Family.  Stress can wreck havoc with your immune system.  Keep yourself and your family healthy with probiotics and other immune system boosters to try to ward off the season's bugs. 
  3. Make Time for You.  Holidays with kids can really shift your focus away from self-care.  Surviving the season means finding time to take care of yourself, too.  Enjoy some aromatherapy or an herbal bath to restore your mind, body, and spirt.
  4. Keep it Green.  Does a house full of useless plastic toys make your head spin?  Green up your holidays with gifts that are not only eco-conscious but that also inspire creativity and imagination. Try a themed Discovery Box for the kids on your list or some organic, sustainable treats for the men or women on your list!
  5. Be Ready for Curveballs.  In spite of the very best plans, life sometimes throws you a curveball.  One of the kids gets sick on a holiday eve or the stress of the season creates new challenges.  Be ready, both by stocking up on ways to care for yourself and cultivating your flexibility and patience.  Coughs, colds, or upset tummies may be on the horizon - find some natural remedies to have on hand so that you're ready.  Nursing a little one?  You might want to keep some helpers around in case your milk supply is less than usual due to the stress.  Be ready and then roll with what comes your way. 
  6. Stay Hydrated.  Gingerbread lattes and wine with your feast can do a real number on your hydration levels.  Hydration is critical for wellness - even a small decrease in your water intake can slow your coordination and decrease your concentration.  Drink plenty of pure water and even try a little flavoring for the season if it gets you to keep up your water intake!
  7. Indulge Better.  Okay, it IS the holidays, after all.  We look forward to so many special treats, from holiday cookies to some old-time favorites, like eggnog.  Indulge a little, but try to select healthier versions of your weaknesses, or make your own with organic and sustainable ingredients!
  8. Don't Stray Too Far.  Little indulgences happen, but try not to toss away all of your healthy practices for the season.  If you avoid toxins in your personal care products, stick with your favorite healthy and effective brands rather than over stressing your body.  Look into handy travel sizes so that you can bring them along and not compromise your standards.  Ditto for your diet.  If you have food sensitivities, don't let your guard down too much or you will suffer for it in the end.  There are great gluten-free, dairy-free options out there - make some of your own and bring them along so that you are not tempted to go overboard.
  9. Be present.  Staying in the moment is both the easiest and hardest thing that you can do to remain calm and enjoy all of the holiday festivities.  Being mindful can reduce stress, lower your blood  pressure, and improve your sleep.  With so much to do, though, it can also be a challenge.  Try practicing mindfulness each day by tuning into the sights, sounds, smells, and flavors of each moment and noticing them fully.  
  10. Make Connections.  The holiday season can be both joyous and difficult.  If you have lost loved ones or are facing a difficult time, the holidays can exacerbate your emotional challenges.  Make social connections and find a like-minded community to get you through the season with support and friendship.  Know that there are many others like you out there and few of us have picture-perfect holiday seasons.
A warm thank you to all the supporters, Sponsors, and friends of the Holistic Moms Network who provide us with so many holistic resources for the holidays and beyond!

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

The Value of Community


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The Holistic Moms Network was founded with one very simple idea in mind: the idea that community matters.

Community matters because community brings us together, face-to-face, in real life.

Community teaches us about authenticity, about empathy, and allows us to connect with one another.

Community matters because it creates a place of belonging – a place where we can begin to know and understand that there are others who share our journey.

Community adds value to our lives, improves our health, and  enriches our experience of happiness.

Community matters because it enables us to learn from one another, share our life experiences, and discover more about ourselves in the process.

Community helps us to develop a sense of place, an awareness of our surroundings, and an appreciation and gratitude for the people, places, and things in our lives.

As parents, community allows us to know that we are not on this journey alone.  That the challenges and struggles, as well as the joys and love that are part of our parenting are shared by many.

For those of us following a holistic path, community gives us a strong place of belonging and empowerment.  A space where we can be open about our desires to live more sustainably and more naturally, and where information and awareness strengthen our resolve.

Engaging in social interaction and being a member of a community has even been shown to improve our immune systems and our moods, reduce anxiety and even improve our memory. 

Community is good for us.

But today’s digital and virtual culture, combined with our fast paced lives, pull us in the opposite direction – into our self-contained spaces, far apart from one another.

Being together gives us an opportunity to learn, share, and connect in a way that virtual connections do not.  We believe in the power of community - for ourselves, our families, our neighborhoods, and our planet.  Do you?



Thursday, October 2, 2014

Simple Actions, Big Results!

It's Holistic Living Month!

Here at the Holistic Moms Network we are celebrating our 11th year of community, sharing, and connecting. We are honored to have an opportunity to help raise awareness, but also to bring parents and others together for support.

One of the biggest deterrents to making healthy and sustainable lifestyle changes is a sense of fear and overwhelm. As parents, it is particularly easy to stop dead in our tracks when we begin to realize how many things in our environment are toxic to us and to our families. That moment of awareness is critical. Our fight or flight instincts kick in and we can throw up our hands in disgust and go about our familiar ways, or we can fight back and decide to become more informed and more empowered in order to improve our health and the health of the planet.

But it's not an easy choice nor a simple journey. Once you begin, there are many crossroads where you need to make choices based upon the information that you have and the resources available to you. Sometimes we move forward, sometimes we don't. Change can be hard.

It is important to remember that even simple, everyday changes can add up to a big difference, both in terms of health and sustainability. That's why we have created 31 Days of Holistic Living for October, Holistic Living Month. Each day we will share a practical step that you can take to live more naturally. Each action is designed to be something that you can do today and try out. You might find out that it works for you and that your new action can become a regular part of your lifestyle. Or you may want to add it to your "to do" list and see if it will work at another time.

Follow us on Facebook to see each one of our 31 Days of Holistic Living and introduce some new actions into your life. One day at a time, and the journey seems much easier to achieve. Be sure to celebrate the actions that you take on and remember that change takes time!

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Keeping the Tops

Excuses are both dangerous and brilliant.  I am often inclined to use them at workout time.  "I'm too busy" or "I'm too tired" are frequent visitors at these times, although "I really just want to lie down and put my feet up" is the authentic voice behind the excuses.

However, I often quickly tire of the "living healthy is too expensive excuse."  For me, living healthfully - and sustainably - is exactly the opposite: a simple, healthful lifestyle saves me money.  Growing organic vegetables and herbs in my little container garden and a commitment to living greener and reusing not only enhance my family's well-being and that of the planet, but bring about many opportunities for financial savings.  Once you embrace the idea of living with less waste, you begin to see how much you have been throwing away - literally and figuratively.

Hopping through farmers' markets this weekend (I've been known to hit multiple markets in one Saturday morning jaunt), I found some fabulous organic carrots in gorgeous hues of yellow, orange, and red.  The kindly farmer asked if he could remove their tops and when I said that I would be using them, it sparked an interesting conversation on the many ways they can be used and consumed.  (Yes, there are some questions about allergic reactions to carrot greens - or any greens containing alkaloids - so stick to organic).  Lovely carrot tops/greens can be used to make stock, pesto, or in this delicious Carrot Top Chimichurri which was aided by fresh cilantro from the garden and some garlic and peppers on hand.  It's super easy with your food processor and a little bit goes a long way.  You can add in some cumin or paprika for an extra kick.  We're enjoying it on some leftover pulled pork.  Enjoy - and save those tops!

Carrot Top Chimichurri (from Rosemarried.com

1 large handful of cilantro 
Carrot greens (from the 4 carrots)
1 serrano chili, stem and seeds removed
2 cloves of garlic, peeled
 
Salt & pepper, to taste
 
The juice of 1 lime 
1/4 cup olive oil

To assemble the chimichurri, pulse the garlic cloves and serrano chili together in a food processor. Add in the carrot greens, cilantro, salt, pepper, and lime juice and process while pouring the olive oil in a steady stream. Blend until the mixture is well combined.


Contributed by Nancy Peplinsky, Founder and Director of the Holistic Moms Network, and mother to two amazing boys. 

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Social Isolation Will Kill You

Eat organic?  Exercise regularly?  Are you mindful and present?  You may be healthy -- or you may not be as healthy as you think.  Are you lonely?  If so, you're among a growing percentage of our population.  According to a recent study of people 45 years old and older, more than 40% of us are lonely, up over the past 20 years.  What's more is that loneliness impacts mortality as much as obesity or a lack of physical activity, yet not enough of us are dedicating our time to preventing it.  PLOS Medicine published an article showing that "individuals with adequate social relationships have a 50% greater likelihood of survival compared to those with poor or insufficient social relationships. The magnitude of this effect is comparable with quitting smoking and it exceeds many well-known risk factors for mortality (e.g., obesity, physical inactivity)."

If you're spending hours each week at the farmers' market or in the garden to feed yourself good food, or logging in time at the gym, you need to be spending just as much time enriching your social life and sense of community in order to gain this healthy advantage.  And, no, social media doesn't count.  Although young adults "feel" connected through social media outlets, such as Facebook, it's a deceptive illusion.  Research shows that the more time people spend on Facebook, the more lonely they truly are.  



Matthew Lieberman, social psychologist and neuroscientist, argues in his book Social: Why Our Brains Are Wired to Connect, that social connection is the very foundation for happiness and satisfaction.  In a  fascinating look at social connection published in The Atlantic, author Emily Esfahani Smith writes:

"Social connections are as important to our survival and flourishing as the need for food, safety, and shelter. But over the last fifty years, while society has been growing more and more prosperous and individualistic, our social connections have been dissolving. We volunteer less. We entertain guests at our homes less. We are getting married less. We are having fewer children. And we have fewer and fewer close friends with whom we’d share the intimate details of our lives. We are increasingly denying our social nature, and paying a price for it. Over the same period of time that social isolation has increased, our levels of happiness have gone down, while rates of suicide and depression have multiplied."

So how do we overcome the social isolation problem?  Our self-focused culture and media emphasis on "me time" don't help.  We need to step up, overcome apathy, and get active in our neighborhoods, communities, and towns.  Whether volunteering for a local organization, serving on a town or school council, or joining a social group, getting connected requires a small step for a big reward.  Health has many facets and it's time this one makes our to-do lists.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Journeying Together: Moms Need Support

journey:  passage or progress from one stage to another: the journey to success.

“The moment a child is born, the mother is also born. She never existed before. The woman existed, but the mother, never. A mother is something absolutely new." - Osho



Spiritual leader and teacher Osho shares incredibly wise words about motherhood - a journey that transforms us from women into mothers.  Motherhood has a truly transformative quality.  Where we begin and where we are today are inevitably different, perhaps slightly or perhaps unrecognizably so.  At the Holistic Moms Network we honor this transformation and talk about motherhood as a journey because it is a long road of travel, physically, emotionally, spiritually, socially, and psychologically.  There are triumphs and failures, adventures and trials along the way. 

Whether the road is hard or easy, simple or chaotic, the journey of motherhood is best traveled in good company.  Spouses, partners, and family members are by our sides, but nothing seems to enrich the journey more than the presence of other mothers who offer friendship, support, and advice.  "Mothers who have the help of people they trust feel more self-esteem, confidence as a parent, and struggle less to access information that helps them problem-solve for their bundle of joy," according to Psychology Today magazine.   Indeed, a wealth of research shows that mother-to-mother support is one of the most valuable ways to empower women on their parenting journeys.

At our very core at HMN lies this simple rule: moms need support.  It doesn't matter where you are on your journey, how holistic you may or may not be, or whether this is your first voyage or you are an experienced adventurer.  Surrounding yourself with support and community will be invaluable.  Bringing parents together, building communities, and creating opportunities for moms to journey together is the very mission and purpose of what we do here at the Holistic Moms Network.  And each May we honor moms and try to make the journey a little easier. 

Your support is what makes our non-profit community possible.  Each membership donation helps us sustain a Local Chapter, build a new one, provide information online or in person, or fulfill our ongoing mission.  In May we invite moms, dads, grandparents, expecting parents, caregivers, holistic healthcare providers, and others to join us to support this mission and help another on her own journey.  Join us in May - for yourself, for another, for all of us!


Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Warming Kale Soup


Spring is a fickle month in the Northeast.  One day the sun warms and flowers start to pop open, then next it's cold and rainy.  This week is the latter, sending a chill reminiscent of the recent winter past.  So it's a great week for some warm soup with some of our very favorite superfoods, including kale.

This recipe comes from Many Paths, One Journey to Health, a cookbook published by the Holistic Moms Network based upon member-submitted, kid-tested recipes.  These are simple, real food recipes for real people!

Enjoy!


Kale and Cannellini Bean Soup  (From our Farm to Table Section)

2 cloves of minced garlic
1 tsp. fennel seeds
1 1/2 c. chopped onions
2-3 carrots, chopped
1 parsnip, chopped
1 1/2 c. peeled, chopped tomatoes
6 c. vegetable stock
2 bay leaves
1 T. fresh oregano (or 1 tsp. dried)
3 med. potatoes, diced
1-2 bunches kale, stems removed and chopped
2 c. cooked cannellini beans
1 c. chopped oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes, drained
Pinch of saffron
Salt and pepper to taste

Fry garlic and fennel seeds in oil, stirring constantly, approximately one minute.  Add, onions, cook another two minus.  Add carrots and parsnips, stirring and cook for 4-5 minutes.  Add tomatoes, stock, bay leaves, and oregano.  Bring to a coil and cook for approximately 10 minutes.  Add potatoes and kale, cooking for approximately 20 more minutes and sun-dried tomatoes.  Simmer for 5-10 minutes until potatoes are cooked through.  Remove pot from heat, stir in saffron and salt and pepper to taste.  Enjoy!


Order your own cookbook from the Holistic Moms Network here and enjoy all of our recipes, all year long!

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Let's Do Brunch! Coconut Banana French Toast


With warmer weather approaching, we love to enjoy lazy weekends which include tasty treats for breakfast or brunch.  This easy french toast recipe will have your kids begging for more and will give you all a fun taste of the tropics!

This recipe comes from Many Paths, One Journey to Health, a cookbook published by the Holistic Moms Network based upon member-submitted, kid-tested recipes.  These are simple, real food recipes for real people!


Enjoy!


Coconut Banana French Toast  (From our Vegetarian Section)

1-2 ripe bananas
1 can unsweetened coconut milk
1 load day old bread
1/4 c. soy or rice milk (or milk of your choice)

Preheat a skillet to medium high.  In a blender, combine the bananas with the coconut milk.  Blend until smooth and pour into a shallow baking dish.  If the consistency is too thick, whisk in some milk to reach the desired consistency.  Slice the bread to your desired thickness and soak bread in the banana coconut milk mixture for one minute on each side.  Oil or butter the skillet and add bread, allowing to cook a few minutes on each side until a thin crust forms, then flip and cook on the other side.  Top with sliced banana, maple syrup, or a topping of your choice!


Order your own cookbook from the Holistic Moms Network here and enjoy all of our recipes, all year long!

Monday, April 14, 2014

We're Expecting! A Garden, That Is!

Gardening is not part of our family legacy.  My urbanite parents had little interest in growing their own food and opted for modern conveniences at every turn.  But as a holistic-minded parent, my distrust of our food supply combined with a desire for affordable, organic and local produce has led me down the path of becoming a gardener.  Remarkably, it feels very much like becoming a parent.

The early days were filled with excitement and wonder.  I pored over seed and gardening catalogs with awe.  At first I thought I needed all the latest and greatest gear, the little gadgets to make my gardening adventure a success.  But both budget and space limitations forced me to make more realistic choices, just as I had when my first child came into the world.  I do, however, wish that someone would throw me a Garden Shower and bestow wonderful gifts to prepare for the journey ahead.  Alas, that is not on the horizon.

Selecting our seeds was another fun step.  My son and I picked a variety of items to plant, from our favorite veggies to some intriguing herbs.  We read up online and in books and magazines, cultivating advice from a wide range of sources.  Yet as I dive in, I find myself full of uncertainty.  I peer over the fences of neighbors to see what their gardens look like, chat with anyone I can find with a green thumb, and try to find assurances that we, too, will become good gardeners.

Our little seedlings have sprouted and we look on with glee and amazement.  "Oh, mom, they're so cute!" my son utters.  Indeed they are.  But are they getting enough light and water?  When do we harden them to help them thrive outdoors?  And transplanting - how soon?  I eye the weather and prepare myself for the next journey.  I want to nurture them and guide them, but also give them their space.  I hope that at least there are not tumultuous teenage years ahead, and am thankful that we don't have to worry about them staying out late or straying far from home.

I have not even planted our little sprouts and already I am wanting to grow our garden family.  There are sure to be many challenges ahead.  Pests and critters, drought or hornworms.  Like parenthood, I know I have just begun.  But the rewards are already so evident.  The wonder of nature never ceases to amaze me.  I may be a novice and learning as I go but gardening, like parenting, is forcing me to live in the moment and stay attuned to present with all its blessings and challenges.  Perhaps by our third or fourth year, I will become a seasoned expert and will share tales of our plants over coffee with other local gardeners.  For now, I sit in hopeful anticipation of what is to come and are very thankful that at least our garden is not preventing me from sleeping through the night.

Contributed by Nancy Peplinsky, Founder and Director of the Holistic Moms Network, and mother to two amazing boys. 

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Healthy Chocolate Mousse


This is not an April Fool's joke, although you might fool the kids with this one!  Creamy, delicious chocolate mousse can be healthy and dairy free.  Just use this simple recipe to make a tasty treat that you can enjoy and not feel guilty about!

This recipe comes from Many Paths, One Journey to Health, a cookbook published by the Holistic Moms Network based upon member-submitted, kid-tested recipes.  These are simple, real food recipes for real people!

Enjoy!


Chocolate (Avocado) Mousse  (From our Raw Foods Section)

1 cup almond milk
1 avocado, peeled, pitted, and diced
10 medjool dates (pitted and soaked in water to soften)
1/4 cup raw almond butter
1/4 cup agave nectar or raw honey
1/4 cup raw cacao powder (or cocoa powder)

Place all ingredients in a food processor or high power blender and blend until smooth, scraping down the sides.  For best taste, chill before serving.


Order your own cookbooks from the Holistic Moms Network here and enjoy all of our recipes, all year long!


Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Soup to Soothe

Soup is magical.  Seriously.  In our house a big pot of fragrant, steamy soup transforms everyone.  It's like wrapping yourself up in your favorite blanket.  Warm soup fosters calm and comfort.  So as winter winds down, this simple Split Pea Soup is the perfect way to ease into a new season!

This recipe comes from Many Paths, One Journey to Health, a cookbook published by the Holistic Moms Network based upon member-submitted, kid-tested recipes.  These are simple, real food recipes for real people!

Enjoy!


Split Pea Soup (From our Traditional Diets Section)

2 T. olive oil
3/4 c. finely diced pancetta (about 3 oz.)
1 yellow onion, diced
2 celery ribs, diced
3 small carrots, diced
1 bay leaf
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 c. dried split peas (green or yellow)
3 c. chicken or vegetable broth
3 1/2 c. water
1 tsp. thyme
1 tsp. salt
1 c. cooked diced ham (and ham bone if you have it)
1 T. balsamic vinegar
4 T. sherry
Chopped fresh parsley, for garnish

Heat olive oil and add pancetta, stirring until browned.  Add onion, celery, carrots, and bay leaf.  Cook for about 10 minutes.  Add garlic.  Then add split peas, stock, water and ham bone, if available.  Bring to a rolling boil.  Reduce heat to low and simmer for 30 minutes.  Stir occasionally.  Add thyme, cooked diced ham, and salt.  Cook for another 30 minutes.  Remove bay leaf and ham bone.  Remove from heat and add vinegar and sherry.  Season to taste with salt and pepper. Top with parsley.


Order your own cookbooks from the Holistic Moms Network here and enjoy all of our recipes, all year long!



Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Acceptance

Parenting poses us with a wide array of challenges, some expected, most completely unanticipated.  
Being a conscious or mindful parent is its own evolution, a journey into a world of transformation.  Conscious parenting, very simply, rocks your world.  In a good way.

For me, one of the biggest steps into conscious parenting was acceptance.  Acceptance that my to-be vegetarian, creative, Waldorf-style baby was, in reality, a complete carnivore with an engineering mind and penchant for technology.  The acceptance was found in the fact that his uber-Type A personality was how he came into this world, with a wildly curious mind that raced through conversations, books, and general learning at epic speeds.  His insatiable appetite for information was exhausting and yet immensely admirable.  And then along came his brother with multiple disabilities and a personality that could light up an entire room.  His challenges were not to be overcome, but only served to shine his own light more clearly.

I learned quickly that my role as a parent was not to mold my children, but instead to allow them to bloom into the beings that they already were.  Their tastes and preferences, their personalities and quirks, were all their own.  And whether I embraced them or not, it was my role to cultivate and nurture, feed and protect, as a gardener to a garden.  Doing so successfully required both acceptance and letting go.  Letting go of any thoughts, visions, and expectations that I had for my children and embracing the present moment, delighting in where it could lead.  

The greatest conflicts I have encountered in my own parenting journey have always been about acceptance at their core.  My expectations run up against walls of reality.  No, bathtime should not be a mess that I spend the rest of the evening cleaning up.  Mealtimes should be calm and easily received.  Tantrums should be easily resolved.  Expectation versus acceptance.  Where what is just is, the conflict dissipates.  There is acceptance.  And then there is growth.  Certainly there is resistance in parenting where danger is involved, but acceptance allows us growth by freeing us from the need to control. 

Therein lies the start of a beautiful journey in conscious parenting.  We accept, we embrace, and then we grow.  Together, with our children, we bloom as parents alongside them on the same journey.


Contributed by Nancy Massotto, Founder and Director of the Holistic Moms Network, and mother to two amazing boys. 


Thursday, March 13, 2014

Going Green in March!


Have a picky eater?

Looking for an easy, kid-friendly way to get more greens into your kids?

Just in time for St. Patrick's Day, here is a simple, tasty green smoothie recipe that your kids will love (and you will, too!).

This Green Smoothie recipe comes from Many Paths, One Journey to Health, a cookbook published by the Holistic Moms Network based upon member-submitted, kid-tested recipes.

For a healthy morning or snack, this smoothie delivers a great nutritional punch.  Enjoy!


Green Smoothie (From our Juices and Smoothies Section)

Fresh spinach leaves (1-2 cups)
Orange or apple juice (about 4-5 ounces)
1/2 cup chopped fresh or frozen pineapple
2 fresh or frozen bananas
1/2 cup yogurt (or try coconut milk for a dairy-free version)
Ice cubes

Fill blender with spinach leaves and mash down.  Add juice, pineapple, bananas, and yogurt (or coconut milk).  Blend until smooth.  Add ice cubes to thicken and chill, blend again and serve!



Order your own cookbook from the Holistic Moms Network here and enjoy all of our recipes, all year long!


Monday, March 3, 2014

Cold Weather Comfort Food


Beating the winter chill can be as simple as real food and a hot oven.  This week, we bring you a recipe from Many Paths, One Journey to Health, a cookbook published by the Holistic Moms Network based upon member-submitted, kid-tested recipes.

This simple side dish can be used alongside eggs for breakfast or with your favorite lunch or dinner meal.

Enjoy!


Baked Rosemary Potato Wedges (From our Farm to Table Section)


2 tsp. dried or fresh rosemary
2 tsp. dried or fresh basil
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. pepper
1 tsp. paprika (optional)
1 tsp. cinnamon (optional)
3 potatoes, cut into wedges
2 tsp. extra virgin olive oil

Combine spices in a small bowl.  Toss potatoes with olive oil sprinkle the spice mixture over the potatoes.  Bake at 375 degrees F. until crispy and lightly browned.


Order your own cookbooks from the Holistic Moms Network here and enjoy all of our recipes, all year long!



Monday, February 24, 2014

Transparency: Moms Fighting GMOs

The consumer uprising over genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in our food supply has been
gaining momentum for years, particularly among moms.  We have moved well past the awareness-raising stage into a time when non-GMO certified has become a commonplace standard for those in the natural products industry.  Moms are becoming well-versed in the dangers of GMOs and on the health and environmental impacts of GMO products in our food supply.  Labeling has reached a tipping point for those who wish to market to holistic-minded moms and non-GMO certification is vital for competitive marketing.

But labeling alone does not overcome the bigger challenge that food manufacturers have to contend with.  What runs deeper and wider is a remarkable distrust that moms have in food producers and manufacturers: a distrust that no labeling or certification will easily resolve.   Trust, by definition, is the "firm belief in the reliability, truth, ability, or strength of someone or something."  Moms no longer have trust in our food supply.  From the exposed dangers of artificial preservatives and flavorings, to the growing awareness of BPA, trans fats, and even mercury in our foodstuffs, there is little - if anything - that is firm in the belief system of parents when it comes to food.  Brands have abused the public trust for far too long, slapping "natural" and "healthy" on products to entice busy, sleep-deprived parents into taking a chance on their products.  Moms are angry.  And the outrage continues to grow.

For GMOs, the concern puts parents over the edge.  At Holistic Moms, we see deep, widespread skepticism and distrust of food producers.  The movement is strong and compelling.  What parents want - what they are starting to demand - is transparency.  But it will take more than labeling to re-establish broken trust.  Parents want to know who they are buying from, what the company's values are, and where their true commitment lies to consumers.  And if that cannot be had, we are returning to our kitchens to prepare food from scratch.

Is that a bad thing?  Of course not.  We have long advocated for real food here at the Holistic Moms Network.  Modern technology makes the spread of the real food movement even easier: recipes, how-to videos, and foodie websites cultivate our love for and obsession with food.  On the flip side, social media makes the demand for transparency even stronger - and more powerful.  Food recalls, "pink slime" concerns, and the non-GMO movement have all gained traction because of social media.  GMO labeling is a concession the food industry will have to make, sooner rather than later.  But it will be the first step, not the concluding action.  Cultivating transparency will be the giant leap.  And moms will continue to fight for it.  Big Food, be warned.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Starting Fresh, Realistically


The start of a new year always inspires us to be better, do better.  We can dive into the year ahead with grand plans and intentions - resolutions, if you will - and then fall off or stop dead in our tracks, paralyzed by the enormity of it all.

As a holistic-minded parent, or one aspiring to live more healthfully, the journey is fraught with many virtual landmines.  From toxins in personal care products to pesticides and antibiotics in our food supply, it's hard to jump in without feeling daunted.  Instead, we might try for a few baby steps.  Let's realistically set our sights on goals that we can accomplish and feel good about.  Instead of kicking off the new year swearing to rid your life of everything unhealthy, take on a few of these simple actions that you can ease into and celebrate:

  1. Find a local farmers market and frequent it at least once each month.  Useful websites such as Local Harvest can help you to identify a nearby market to visit.  Commit to checking it out, exploring what's fresh and local, and giving your area farmers a chance.
  2. Swap one product you use regularly for an organic version.  Whether it's the apple a day or your favorite shampoo, when you run out, replace it with something USDA certified organic.  Every little step counts.
  3. Spend quality minutes with your kids.  New years are littered with visions of fun-filled family weekends, screen-free vacations, and never missing a sporting event to cheer on a child.  But kids can get sick and cranky, life can get so busy and stressful that a screen is a welcome break, and who needs the guilt when plans just don't pan out?  Look for the small moments.  Snuggle up together on a cold winter day.  Play a short game of hide-and-seek.  Put down the phone and paint a picture together.  Quality time can be little bites, not just long stretches.
  4. Do something just for you, every month.  Okay, this should be every day - or at least every week.  But life can be busy, babysitters expensive.  So find something you can do once a month, just for you.  Take a hike, get a massage, go out with from friends for dinner, kid-free.  Restore your soul and your energy.  It will make you a better parent.
  5. Find support.  It can be daunting to discover how unhealthy our lifestyle really is.  In fact, it can paralyze people from taking action because the tasks at hand seem so far-reaching.  Get connected and find others who are on a similar journey.  Share your ups and downs, learn from one another, and benefit from the health-supporting benefits of social connection.  Virtual friends are fine, but in-real-life connections are immeasurably more powerful.

Let these simple actions guide you and give you a sense of accomplishment.  Once they have become routine, stretch into something new.   The year is just a week old.  Guilt has no place here.  Remember, we're just getting started!

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Take the Challenge: Practice Random Acts of Kindness


‘Tis the season of giving! During December, we naturally think of ways to show our family and friends that we care. Whether baking cookies and mailing them to a grandparent who lives far away or buying a child a special gift they’ve been eyeing, December is a month of kindness.


To cap off our year of Holistic Living Challenges, this month we encourage you to expand on the spirit of this time of year and practice random acts of kindness every day. Go beyond dropping your spare change in the nearest bell-ringer’s bucket, embrace the power of kindness, and watch the ripple effect - both what it inspires in you and what it inspires in others!
Those who make compassion an essential part of their lives find the joy of life. Kindness deepens the spirit and produces rewards that cannot be completely explained in words. It is an experience more powerful than words. To become acquainted with kindness one must be prepared to learn new things and feel new feelings. Kindness is more than a philosophy of the mind. It is a philosophy of the spirit.” ~ Robert J. Furey
Are you ready to touch the lives of strangers and make this world a little better? Whether you already try to live this way or not, take our December Holistic Living Challenge and share your experience for a chance to win great prizes!
Here are the details:


Challenge: Practice Random Acts of Kindness


Directions:


  • Brainstorm some ideas. Take some time to write down ideas for things you can do. Here’s a list to get you started:
    • Shovel someone’s sidewalk. Get up bright and early after it snows and surprise a neighbor by shoveling their walk.
    • Let someone go in front of you in line. Moms with squiggly toddlers and fussy babies are especially appreciative of this simple gesture. 
    • Give care packs to the homeless. Put together a package containing things like toothbrushes, toothpaste, soap, shampoo, deodorant, food, clothes, a blanket, and other necessities. Keep it in the trunk of your car and give it to a homeless person the next time you see one.
    • Pay for the next person in line. If you’re getting a coffee or tea, pay for the drink for the person behind you at the same time.


    • Send flowers to a lonely shut-in. Visit your nearest retirement or nursing home and ask a staff person if there’s a resident who doesn’t have regular visitors or packages in the mail. Send that person some flowers or a small gift to spread a little holiday cheer. If you want to go a step beyond, see if that person would like to chat for a bit or play a board game.


    • Smile - a lot! It’s easy and contagious!


    • Be generous with compliments - especially with people who likely don’t hear them often enough. Tell your school janitor or garbage man you appreciate the service he performs. Tell the receptionist at the doctor’s office thanks for always being so helpful.


  • Get others involved. Talk to your children about practicing random acts of kindness and ask them what they’d feel comfortable doing. Tell friends and family about your ideas and experiences and encourage them to join in.


  • Share your ideas and experience for a chance to win great prizes!