Illustration by Sabrina Bruggman

At home wellness has taken on new meaning this week. Yet it’s so important for us to take care of our health, and the health of those around us. I pulled together a list of at-home wellness resources to help you keep your body, and your mind, strong and resilient during this time.

If you have additional resources to share, please leave a note in my Eat Well, Live Well group and I’ll add it to this round up.

Also, if you haven’t check it out, go read my Immune Boosting tips to stay healthy. These are important tips now and going forward as we navigate this new normal.

at home fitness workouts

At-Home Workout Options

  1. The Balanced Life Sisterhood- membership just opened up for new members. I’ve been with this online pilates program for over a year and it was a game changer for me. Learn more about the Sisterhood and use code emily20 to get $20 off your membership.
  2. Peloton-now offering 90 days to try out the app. You don’t need the bike to enjoy all the other classes. I’ve been doing the yoga, meditation, and strength training classes more often than the biking classes.
  3. Starr Yoga- virtual yoga class run by Julie Starr and her team. Find more info on their Facebook pages to get the Zoom link.
  4. H.Y.P. Studio Yoga and Pilates– online classes via Facebook
  5. Glo Yoga-always has a free trial and is a great resource of yoga video
  6. Just get outside for a walk. Run. Skip. Jump rope. Getting outside when you can will help calm your nervous system too.

At-Home Meditation

  1. Ziva Meditation– this online meditation class is being offered at 50% off, AND FREE for health care workers. If you know anyone, send them this link so they can get access to the course. It’s so important for everyone to make time to quiet their central nervous system during this time of intense emotions. Ziva Meditation is the one I recommend to my clients because it focuses on meditation as a practice to “get good at life, not get good at meditation.” It’s the only program that made me not feel like I was doing meditation wrong because I couldn’t quiet my brain.If there was ever a time to start a meditation practice, this is it. This is what will help us not lose our cool with our kids, spouse, and ourselves as we manage this time home. At home wellness really starts with our mindset each day. If we can start from a place of calm, and end with it, we will get through this with less trauma and more joy. Click here to learn more about Ziva meditation.

at home cooking tips

Cooking at Home

  1. Pamela Salzman runs online cooking classes. It’s a great mental break, and something you can watch with your kids to learn new recipes. Sometimes people think cooking is harder than it really is. Once you see someone else do it, I find it’s much easier to try it yourself. Her monthly classes are all discounted right now. Use code SINGLE10 to get single classes for $10, or CLASSES17 to sign up for a monthly subscription (normally $27/mo)
  2. Slow cookers are one of the easiest ways to make dinner. This is a great round up of 20 healthy soups and stews for the slow cooker, and often the Instant Pot too. Robyn keeps the ingredient list small, which is great for some limited pantry shopping at the moment.
  3. Engage your kids in the kitchen with a game of “Chopped.” What can they create with some limited vegetables? Give them some limitations, only because we don’t to waste any food during this time.
  4. When in doubt, make a smoothie. If that is all the energy you have at the end of the day, make smoothies for dinner. No one is grading you at this point. Use this opportunity to try some new recipes and grab my Free Smoothie Guide.
  5. Meal planning- I’ll be sharing more about meal planning in the days ahead on Facebook, but I encourage you to meal plan and focus on fresh foods first. There is a lot of “pantry meal posts” going online and I want you to wait on those till it’s necessary. For now, if possible, just use your fresh item first and shop your refrigerator to create meals each day.

homeschool life

At-Home Wellness Tips

Self-care has taken on a new meaning at the moment too. It’s not bubble baths and coffee dates with friends. However, keeping sane at home is so important. There’s a couple of fun ways to help rid your body of the building anxiety some of us are feeling right now. Here’s my go to list of what works:

  • Shaking
  • Jump rope/jumping jacks
  • Dancing

And I did hear about putting Christmas lights back up outside as a sign of solidarity. I just might do that to brighten our evenings and give our neighborhood something fun to enjoy.

We need to focus on the small wins, and moments of joy. Kids laughing as we play Just Dance together. Watching movies together. Letting kids build the biggest forts in the family room.

Yes, we are trying to homeschool and work at home just like the rest of you. Give yourself grace. 

If we keep our child and our body calm, we will weather this storm.

Till then, I miss people. And will continue to make my home a happy, safe place for our family. If I do that each day, it’s enough.

At Home Wellness Resources

This post is sponsored by Babbleboxx

National Nutrition Month Babbleboxx

March is an extra special month as it’s National Nutrition Month AND my birthday. It’s a sign I tell you! You know my passion is to educate others about how to choose well when it comes to the food you buy for your family. There are so many choices available, and sometimes it’s easier to have someone else highlight a few new choices.

Action for Healthy Kids (AFHK)

I love learning about nonprofits that help support children’s nutrition. Getting kids outside and active is so important for their physical AND emotional health. Action for Healthy Kids is a nonprofit bringing together educators and families to create healthier schools and communities, supporting the physical and emotional health of children. Through their new Take Action for Healthy Kids campaign, the organization is encouraging parents and caregivers to take 200,000 actions for healthier kids in 2020, from participating in healthy programs at your school to taking steps as a family to improve nutrition, physical activity and well- being at home.

Action for Healthy Kids

  • One in three children is overweight, or obese, in our country.
  • 76% of parents say they have improved their own habits based on something their child told them about health and well-being, which is another reason why it’s so important children learn about health and nutrition at school.
  • Joining the movement at Commit to Take Action for Healthy Kids by March 31, 2020 and be entered to win a healthy taste test kit to host a fun and tasty nutrition education activity for students at your child’s school. (valued at $175) If you do one thing for National Nutrition month, sign up for your kid’s school to win.

Beetology Juice

Beets are incredibly beneficial for our body, but so messy to cook! This versatile veggie is packed with vitamins and minerals associated with lowering blood pressure, fighting inflammation, increased stamina, detoxification support, boosting immunity, and much more. For National Nutrition Month, you just can’t “beat beets.” 

Beetology cold pressed juice national nutrition month

I love finding new ways to incorporate beets into my routine, just like in my Red Velvet Smoothie recipe. But sometimes, it’s even easier for a grab and go option that Beetology has created! Here are some of the benefits:

  • 100% organic cold-pressed juice
  • Real food ingredients, no preservatives or additives, no artificial colors or flavors

 

GOODTO GO Keto Snack Bars

One of the most common questions I get with my coaching clients is, “what’s the best snack bar?” I have to say it’s a personal choice…crunchy, soft, salty, sweet. What’s your favorite way to feel satisfied, and then we can find your perfect snack bar.

Goodto Go Keto Snack Bar

If you love a softer bar (kinda like a brownie!) then try the GOODTO GO snack bar. This bar is keto-friendly, and a quick way to eat something without a blood sugar spike.  Swap out the bagel and grab a GOODTO GO snack bar. My favorite is the Mint Chocolate and anything chocolate. 

  • They contain low net carbs (3 grams/bar), just a hint of sugar (2 grams/bar) and a whopping 13 grams of healthy fats.
  • Keto certified by the Paleo foundation
  • Non-GMO project certified

Healthy Choice Power Dressings

Salads make our table most nights as I want our kids to be very familiar and comfortable with this simple, yet nourishing side dish. One way to keep things exciting is new dressings. Healthy Choice Power Dressings add delicious flavors to your salad while keeping it healthy. These Vegetable-Powered Dressings are made with real vegetables and no artificial flavors, or soy ingredients.

  • Flavorful taste powered by a savory mix of herbs and spices
  • Powerful ingredients without any artificial flavors
  • 45 calories or less per serving (although you know I generally never look at calories)
Healthy Choice Power Dressing
As much as I love the idea of making my own salad dressings, I’m usually short on time and rushing between events to get dinner on the table. Instead, these Power Dressings are a quick alternative. For National Nutrition Month, we cannot talk enough about the importance of getting more plants on our dinner table.

 

Shipt

Shipt is a membership-based grocery marketplace, enabling the delivery of fresh foods and household essentials. You know I love delivery to help save time for meal planning. Shipt was new to meal and I am excited to have another resource to cut down on driving around to different stores. 

Shipt grocery delivery

 

I was able to order from Target and get it delivered SAME DAY. In light of current events, I focused on restocking my cleaning supplies and LOTS of hand soap. With Shipt, I also could order from my local grocery stores, PetCo, or CVS. (check your area to see what you can get delivered!)

  • Shipt is the nation’s fastest-growing online grocery marketplace. They work with leading retailers and local stores to deliver groceries via a community of shoppers and a convenient app.
  • Since its founding in 2014, Shipt has been rapidly expanding and now offers quality, personalized grocery delivery to tens of millions of households across the United States.

Get $50 off an annual Shipt membership by clicking here.

 

Dessert Hummus from Tribe Hummus

When I first shared my own recipe for chocolate hummus, no one believed there were chickpeas in there! Hummus is one of the best ways to boost your fiber and protein intake. If you are short on time, you have to try the Tribe Dessert Hummus. Plus it’s easy to pack in your kid’s lunch box too for a quick snack.

  • Each flavor has only 5g of sugar per serving
  • No artificial preservatives
  • Free from all major all allergens, including dairy
  • Non-GMO Project verified, Vegan, Gluten-Free, kosher.

National Nutrition Month Tribe Dessert Hummus

My favorite way to serve the dessert hummus is with apple slices. It’s the perfect pair, and apples are another way to get more fiber into our diet. You can also try it with bananas or celery too. Find out if your local store carries Tribe Dessert Hummus.

Happy National Nutrition Month! Think about can you do to upgrade your nutrition just a little bit each day and I promise it will add up over time.
celebrate national nutrition month

When I recently read the ingredients of a particular children’s protein shake, I realized I had to share a healthy alternative to PediaSure®. A milkshake that’s marketed to parents as a healthy drink but is filled with sugar, oxidized oils, and synthetic vitamins is certainly not what I would give to my own kids. As a liquid meal replacement, there are much better options.

Best plastic free lunch box gear for kids, including containers, snack size boxes, and water bottles. Read on to prepare your kids for back-to-school with a healthy lunchbox, even before the food gets packed. (links below are affiliate links in Amazon for you to see the various sizes available.)

plastic free lunch box for kids containers in stainless steel and glass

 

What are some first steps we can take to create a plastic free lunch box for kids?

  • Switch to glass and stainless steel whenever possible.
  • Purchase produce not wrapped in plastic, or remove once you purchase from the store.
  • Transfer food to glass storage containers as you meal prep.
  • Avoid putting any plastic you have in the dishwasher.

Why do we want a plastic free lunch box for kids?

In case you missed it, the Academy of Pediatrics released a new study showing the danger of plastics and the effects on children. They released a statement expressing concern about the scientific evidence that chemicals from plastics interfere with the body’s natural hormones and long-term development. The chemicals that are cause for concern in the latest statement include phthalates, which are needed to make plastic flexible. It also includes bisphenol (BPA) which is still used to line metal cans, and also perfluoroalkyl (PFCs) found in grease proof paper and packaging.

Infants and children are particularly vulnerable to exposure to hormone disruptors. This can increase their risk of obesity, diabetes, and fertility issues. Make the switch to glass and stainless steel, for your kitchen and for creating a plastic free lunch box for kids.

Best Plastic Free Lunch Box

Let’s start with the actual bag, or tote, for your kid’s lunch. There are so many options, but not all are created equal. Look for ones that are PVC, BPA & Phthalate-free, and CPSIA compliant. One of our favorites has been the Wildkin brand. (they also make really sturdy backpacks too!)

Plastic Free Lunch Box for Kids

PlanetBox

  • Plastic free lunch box bento style in stainless steel
  • Rover is great for most school aged kids.
  • Launch is great for older kids (and adults)
  • Comes with coordinating containers for “wet” food like yogurt, applesauce, and oatmeal.
plastic free lunch box for kids planetbox ideas

So many amazing lunch ideas for the Planetbox.

 

LunchBots

  • variety of simple, stainless steel containers
  • great for busy parents…keeps packing simple and you can toss them in the dishwasher at the end of the day.
  • I have multiple on hand so some are ready to prep, while others are getting washed overnight

plastic free lunch box lunchbots healthy lunch

 

Plastic free lunch box snack containers, great food storage containers for home and school

  • Kids Konserve– variety of sizes and easy to open silicone lids. I’ve used them for years, and finally ordered a second set last year. Love them.
  • Kid Basix Safe Snacker– sandwich size option, but also fits a salad for my 9-year-old. Added this to our lineup last year and it’s a great multi-use option. Also good for car trips.
    • opt for generic colors so the containers don’t “belong” to any particular child. It will make your packing lunch life easier.
  • Wean Green– we have had our first set of Wean Green containers since our youngest went to daycare at 9 months. We packed baby food in them, and now they hold her salad dressings! They now offer a variety of sizes and they are super durable. Dishwasher friendly and the square sizes pack really well in the lunch box. As you go up in size, they are also great for meal prep!

plastic free lunch box wean green kids

Plastic Free Lunch Box Bags and Accessories

  • Beeswax wraps- skip the bag and use a beeswax wrap. This is great for young kids as it’s easy to open, and doesn’t add extra weight to their backpack like glass does.
  • Lunchskins are our favorite fabric sandwich bags. Itzy Ritzy zippered fabric bags are my favorite for smaller snack size options. They have a ton of cute patterns too!
  • Bamboo utensils to pack for oatmeal, salads, or yogurt parfaits for lunch. Stainless steel kid utensils are great for the dishwasher, but adds more weight to the lunch bag.
  • Stainless steel thermos options are another great way to add more variety to your kid’s lunch. We like the Lunchbots Thermo Soup Jar. It works for when we send in oatmeal or a yogurt parfait. (Or a fried egg that stays hot and can be used for an egg sandwich!)

Plastic Free Water Bottle for Lunch Box

This has been a struggle for way longer than I would like to admit. Between straws that are hard to clean, leaky snap covers, and paint that chips off, we have seen it all. I can give you a few suggestions of what everyone has been happiest with lately.

  • Contigo Thermalock bottle– we bought this last September and it’s still in great shape for the school year ahead! No straw, easy to clean. I do think it’s better for older kids as it may be challenging to open it.
  • Eco Vessel Kids Scout bottle– this has also latest over a year for us. It does have a food-grade silicone straw, but it detaches easily and the spout cleans well too. My younger kids have this one and love it.
  • As our kids get older I see them asking for bigger water bottles. Certainly for sports they need more water. The Hydro Flask brand is a favorite in our house as they have a variety of lids, depending on what you need. The sport top is the easiest for the kids to “lock” so we don’t end up with wet backpacks!

Whew! That’s a lot of info about how to switch to a plastic free lunch box! Happy back to school everyone!

Resources

“Choosing a safe sunscreen for your family is such an important job as a mom. I’ve tried to explain the science behind what makes something a safe sunscreen, and what we need to look for when choosing a product. This is updated with the best natural sunscreens for 2019.

ULTIMATE GUIDE TO SAFE SUNSCREEN

As the sun gets stronger and days longer, this is the time of year when I’m asked how to choose a safe sunscreen. I started paying more attention to sunscreen ingredients when I had to put it on my first born child. Since then, I’ve learned a lot more about what’s safe and what’s not. I’m also covered in moles from head to toe, and I see them now on my kids too. I’ve had a least 10 surgeries to have them removed, and often needed a second round to remove the margins. My family has a history of skin cancer, and my husband’s family has a history of melanoma. I’m truly diligent about sun protection, and it comes from both safe sunscreen and protective clothing.

Safe Sunscreen: Mineral based ingredients

The ingredients to look are zinc oxide, titanium dioxide, or both. These are mineral based ingredients, which physically block the sun from absorbing into your skin. They are your safest choice, as they don’t disrupt your hormones, and don’t actually penetrate your skin. Zinc in particular is healing for the skin. Think about all the diaper rash creams on the market, they all use zinc oxide, which has a healing mechanism. Even more interesting, there are studies that show zinc may help your body assimilate Vitamin D from the sun better. As our sunscreen wears off, we are going to be exposed to some sunshine until we reapply, which will produce Vitamin D on the skin. If that gets absorbed better from the presence of zinc, it’s a win, win.

Unsafe Sunscreen: Chemical ingredients

Despite us growing up with chemical based sunscreen, we now know they are harmful to our health. The chemical sunscreens block our skin’s ability to breathe. That’s not a good thing. Studies also recognize that many of the chemicals being used are disrupting our hormones. This is so important, especially on little bodies! These are the chemicals you don’t want to see on the ingredient list of your sunscreen:

  • Oxybenzone
  • Octinoxate
  • Benzophenone
  • Butylparaben (always run when you see “paraben” anywhere!)

Additionally, methyliosothiazolinone should also be avoided. It’s a skin allergen, and was deem unsafe by the European Scientific Committee on Consumer Safety back in 2015. Yet it’s in 44 sunscreen on the market today in the US. It’s a chemical preservative and it doesn’t belong getting absorbed into your body.

Why Chemical Sunscreens are not Safe

Here’s the problem. As you sit in the sun, the chemicals bake into your skin. As a toxin, this is absorbed and then travels to your fat cells. They STICK there. Once you have a toxin that has found a fat cell, they stick to it. Curious where they stick…you guessed it, cellulite- in all the places you don’t want it. Reducing your total toxin exposure everyday is a key part of achieving a weight loss goal. It makes a big difference.

Second, chemical sunscreens actually alter the integrity of our cells, increasing carcinoma risk. This means a sunburn is actually less damaging than what a chemical sunscreen does to your skin cells. Crazy, but true.

Third, if chemical sunscreens are killing the coral reefs, what are they doing to your body? Sunscreens using chemical ingredients are being banned in Hawaii and Australia due to the toxicity in the wildlife that’s killing coral reefs. Mineral sunscreens do not pose the same risk to the environment.

[click_to_tweet tweet=”If chemical sunscreens are killing the coral reefs, what are they doing to your body?” quote=”if chemical sunscreens are killing the coral reefs, what are they doing to your body?”]

safe sunscreen Food as sunscreen

Foods that Increase Sun Protection Naturally

This is a fun thing! There are plenty of plant foods rich in antioxidants that actually help protect your skin from the inside out. While I still support using sunscreen, I’ll happily layer on these foods for extra protection.

  • Watermelon
  • Green Tea (try it iced!)
  • Leafy greens
  • Berries
  • Tomatoes

It’s the pigment rich foods that tend to boost an internal SPF. Tomatoes showed a 30% increase in sun protection after study participants ate a tomato rich diet. Maybe that’s an extra good reason for a caprese salad at lunch with extra basil, right?

Eating plenty of greens can also help us capture sunlight in our cells, which is then translated into energy via our mitochondria. (Sayer Ji- Green Med 2015 Chlorophyl)

Sunscreen Safety Facts and Vitamin D

I can’t gloss over the fact that skin cancer rates are on the rise. However, the use of sunscreen is also on the rise. Shouldn’t the cancer rates be doing down?

What’s happening may be related to our lack of Vitamin D as a society. Those of us living in the northern latitudes are certainly vitamin D deficient most of the year, and the supplements we may take are not the same as vitamin D generated from sunshine. Vitamin D from the sun is created via the absorption of UVB rays, to create D3 sulfate. What we buy from the store is just D3, and what is fortified in foods is just D2. These are both water soluble, versus D3 sulfate that is fat soluble.

Why is Vitamin D so important? A deficiency in this “hormone” is actually more likely to cause an overall increase in cancer risk, including skin cancer. So as we block all the sun we can to avoid premature aging and skin cancer, we may be setting ourselves up for an increase in cancer rates.

Adding to this concern, studies now show melanoma is more likely to occur in places where the sun doesn’t shine. There is a study that shows there is a reduced likelihood for melanoma for adults and children who play outside. (source) This isn’t the same case for basal cell and squamous cell carcinoma, so we all still need to be mindful about our sun exposure, but maybe it’s time to play more outside without sunscreen in the early hours of the day. Let our skin soak in the vitamin D created, and don’t wash it till the end of the day. Vitamin D needs nearly 12 hours to be fully absorbed into your bloodstream.

Did you grab your Free Smoothie Guide?

I could talk all day about how just one smoothie a day can help boost your energy, clear up your skin, and help your digestion.

 

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Safe Sunscreen without Oxybenzone

How do shop for safe sunscreen? First, look at the ingredient label on the back. Skip the marketing on the front label and flip that bottle over. Look for titanium dioxide or zinc oxide in the ingredient label. Make sure you don’t see “fragrance” or methyliosothiazolinone on the ingredient list either. Avoid any sunscreen with oxybenzone in the ingredient list.

Next, check the bottles against the Environmental Working Group sunscreen ratings guide. Enter your choice and shop for those with a #1 rating. These are some of my favorites. (and yes, I am a Beautycounter consultant as I joined many years ago to support their mission to educate women about safer skin care. And it was the sunscreen that lured me to them in the first place!)

 

safe sunscreen beautycounter nontoxic

The new sunscreen line from Beautycounter was updated with the addition of California poppy, which boosts the effectiveness of zinc oxide to block blue light. This makes it an excellent non-toxic safe sunscreen to avoid premature aging from blue light. In addition, the zinc oxide used is very fine, so you won’t be walking around covered in a white film. The newest formula is non-greasy and actually feels good on the skin. All of the sunscreen has an EWG rating of a 1.

In addition, there is a new sunscreen mist option available. It’s an air-pressured can, not a spray using chemical propellants. Also, it’s a non-nano particle zinc oxide so it’s not harmful to children. Those chemical spray sunscreens may be handy, but they are damaging to the skin AND your kid’s lungs if they are inhaled.

In addition to Beautycounter, I’m also happy with these brands and usually shop for them on Amazon. (However, I only use Beautycounter on my kid’s faces as they have very sensitive skin. Other sunscreens would make their eyes itch and get red so I stick with Beautycounter.) 

Best natural sunscreen 2019

SPF Clothing

I think sun coverage during the day is another great awesome to protect our skin, and wear a lot less sunscreen in general. I don’t need all that much sunscreen on my kids when they wear sunscreen shirts and bottoms. My favorite brands to pick from are Cabana Life, Hatley, Mott50 and Coolibar. You will find me on the beach in this navy stripe Cabana life rashguard shirt this summer.

Add a big summer hat and you are golden! Well…fair I mean.

ultimate safe sunscreen guide safe sunscreen kids babies

I hope this long post about safe sunscreen is helpful, and I’ve added in a lot of information. Use this Sunscreen Guide to help you find a safe sunscreen for kids, test out the best natural sunscreens, and learn what are safe sunscreen ingredients. Bottom line, enjoy your time in the sun safely, get some vitamin D, and choose a nontoxic mineral based sunscreen.

p.s. Beautycounter added new after sun cooling gel AND a tinted sunscreen! No more pasty legs!

Safe sunscreen beautycounter countersun 2019

Create Color In Kids Thank You Note Cards

My Grammy once told me how much she appreciated receiving my thank you notes after the holidays and every birthday. When I was young, all I remember was how long it took to write out those cards. Sending a note is such a simple gesture, but it turns out it can be quite meaningful.

Our kids have been blessed with very generous grandparents and extended family. Now it’s our job as parents to work with them to instill the value of gratitude. Explaining the concept of  gratitude via thank you notes is helpful to take that first step. Having cute thank you notes to help the cause is even better.

Kids can write a note on their own paper, create their own card, or try these custom thank-you notes we used this year. Although I’m embarrassed to admit, we are still catching up on holiday/birthday thank you notes. Our kids get a double dose of presents over a month and we are trying to finish up those thank you notes this week. Part of the delay is the challenge of getting a seven year old to spend quality time writing out the notes. I don’t want thank you notes to feel like a chore, but more like an opportunity to discuss the gratitude we feel in our lives. To the children, it may be for presents, but it’s a good time to talk about other blessings. A warm home, healthy food, favorite friends and strong bodies. The less we focus on the “stuff” we are thankful for, maybe the kids will be more protective of the other blessings in their lives.

Color-in-kids-thank-you-notes

 

Try this with your kids. Next time they need to thank someone for a gift, use this as a chance to get them involved. Talk about gratitude and what it means. Then turn the tables and talk about how we can be more generous. Can we donate some toys to a family in need? Drop off a meal to someone who is ill? Call those grandparents more often because we know it makes their day. (Even grown ups need a reminder here sometimes, me included.)

Need some adorable Thank You notes for your kids? Tiny Prints wants to spread the message of gratitude and I’m happy to help. One winner will get 30 Color-In Thank You Notes ($56 value.) Pop over to my Instagram and enter into the contest there. Thank you to Tiny Prints for sharing this product with me and with you too! Contest is open until 3/9.

Thank-you-note-coloring-kids

A few people have asked about what we pack in our Yumbox lunches. These are our favorite lunch boxes, both for ease of use and how cute they are. They come in a variety of colors and inserts so you can customize it to the age of your child.

Yumbox bento box lunch for kids

When packing the boxes, it’s best to break it down into categories. The Yumbox makes it easy for you by reminding you of the categories in their inserts. Protein, dairy, vegetables, fruits and grains. So simple, right?

We own both the panino (sandwich friendly) insert and also the original bento box version. I use them both so frequently I can’t say I love one over the other. We have the blue and the pink box.

Here are some ideas of what to pack for each category.

PROTEIN
  • Hummus
  • Yogurt
  • Cold cuts rolled up
  • Rotisserie chicken
  • Beans (chick peas are kid friendly)/Legumes
  • Hard boiled eggs
  • Sunflower seeds/sunbutter
  • Sulfite free pepperoni sticks
DAIRY
  • Cheese stick
  • Cheese cubed
  • Yogurt- plain or greek flavored with honey is better than the presweetened variety
  • Cottage cheese
  • Ricotta with honey
FRUIT
  • Grapes-check for seedless variety
  • Berries
  • Melons
  • Pineapple
  • Kiwi
  • Mango
  • Pears
  • Applesauce
  • Oranges/Clementines
  • Raisins/Craisins
VEGETABLES
  • Peppers
  • Cucumber- English is better for packing
  • Celery
  • Carrots
  • Cherry Tomatoes
  • Peas
  • Broccoli/Cauliflower
  • Salad
WHOLE GRAINS
  • Pita bread
  • Crackers/rice crackers
  • Popcorn- (homemade)
  • Whole wheat bread/bagels
  • Pretzels
  • Rice cakes
  • Homemade mini muffins/breads

 

Pin the image to save for those mornings when you just can’t think of what to pack!

Healthy kid lunch ideas using the Yumbox lunch box container bento

 

What else do you like to pack in your kid’s lunch box?

Note: I’ve bought all my Yumboxes myself. Love them. The links in here are affiliate links, which means if you decide to purchase one the site receives a small commission. Thanks!

Summer is on our doorstep friends. Time to load up on sunscreen and today is the day for the 2015 Sunscreen Guide. Here’s your chance to see what’s new, what works and most importantly, what’s safe for you and your family. Sunscreen is a wonderful barrier to protect your skin, but educate yourself on which ones can do more harm than good.

2015 Healthy Sunscreen Guide

In this guide, I’ll be sharing with you the product, the price (and amazon affiliate links where available to make ordering easy) and also the EWG rating. For those of you unfamiliar with EWG (or Environmental Working Group), it’s a hugely educational site that helps shed light on the safety of sunscreen and other beauty products. I am only sharing products that get a 0, 1 or 2 rating. Anything lower is just too questionable for me to consider sharing it with you.

2015-SUNSCREEN-GUIDE-label

NATURE’S GATE SPORT SPF 30

  • $10.50/ 4 oz. (Amazon)
  • EWG Rating: 2
  • Great for the beach and playing outdoor sports

GODDESS GARDEN KIDS NATURAL LOTION SPF 30

  • $15.99/ 6 oz.
  • EWG Rating: 1
  • Goddess Garden can be found easily at Whole Foods or online. Note- the trigger spray option EWG rating drops down to a 3.

 NEUTRAL SKIN MINERAL SUNSCREEN

  • $11.99/ 8 oz. (great value. Amazon)
  • EWG Rating: not included (I used this last year and can vouch for it.)
  • Thinner lotion that spreads better than most.

RAW ELEMENTS ECO-STICK

  • $12.99 stick/ (Amazon)
  • EWG Rating: 1
  • The ease of a stick without the white cast. The brown tint really doesn’t look brown, just a hint of color on light skin. It’s a little sticky so it’s best for small areas like the face and top of hands.

AVA ANDERSON LOTION

  • $15.95/ 2.9 oz
  • EWG Rating: 1 (same for the sunscreen stick)
  • Friends swear by this line for its eco-friendliness. I just ordered my first batch of products.

THINKSPORT SUNSCREEN (BABY AND KIDS VERSION AVAILABLE)

  • $12.55/ 3.0 oz (Amazon)
  • EWG Rating: 1
  • Easy to apply and the whole family can use it safely. Every version has great ratings.

BADGER BALM KIDS CREAM SPF 30

  • $14.49/2.9 oz (Amazon)
  • EWG Rating: 1
  • Badger is well known as being a great choice for kids with sensitive skin.

Couple of quick notes. You will notice that the majority of these sunscreens can’t be found at your local drugstore. Those sunscreens are generally less expensive, but are using chemicals instead to create a barrier for your skin. The benefit of using a mineral based sunscreen (zinc and titanium dioxide) is they create a physical barrier against the sun immediately. No need to wait ten minutes for chemicals to sink into your skin to make the sunscreen effective. (doesn’t that just sound creepy…)

AVOBENZONE = YUCKY

QUICK SHOPPING LINKS 

 

As we look ahead to the final weeks of preparing school lunches, let’s try to keep things fresh and fun. Here’s a little roundup of easy surprises you can add to your child’s lunchbox or after school snack time routine. Who knows, maybe your kid will try a new piece of fruit if presented with a little humor?

Have fun with these adorable lunchbox ideas!

Cute lunchbox orange

1. Happy little orange snail. (Use a food safe pen.)

Grape caterpillar for lunch

 

2. Line them up! Grape caterpillars.

Cute apple turtle for lunch

3. Sneak in some apple turtles.

Chicks and the mama eggs

4. What came first? The chicken or the egg?

Owl lunch design

5. Give a hoot for this fun owl lunch surprise.

Healthy kids bento lunch

6. Skip the work and just stick with a fun bento box for the kid’s lunch. The Yumbox is still a favorite since it’s lightweight, easy to clean and spill-proof. Pack them for a summer picnic or a car trip. These will make the cut for us on our Toronto road trip in August!

If you want ALL of my easy smoothie recipes in one handy printable recipe book, click here. All recipes are kid-approved!

Enjoy the last few weeks of packing school lunch. Then on to camp lunches…

Sources 1. 2. 3. 4. 5.

Which one is your favorite adorable lunchbox idea?

The hot weather has finally arrived in our little neck of the woods. Snow pants and wool hats were quickly replaced with sunscreen and sun hats. Getting the kids off to school layered up in sunscreen is a new part of our routine, one they need to get used to for the summer ahead. But what about other ways to protection our skin from the sun’s harsh rays? May is Skin Cancer Awareness month and it has certainly touched many people’s lives. Today I want to share some ways to protect your skin beyond reaching for the bottle of sunscreen.

Sun Protection Beyond the Bottle

Umbrellas

  • Find yourself a fabulous umbrella for the beach. Make sure it has an UPF rating of 50+. (UPF stands for ultraviolet protection factor)
  • The Coolibar Umbrella here is our family favorite. You can see at least 4 of them lined up at our beach spot all summer long with multiple families sharing the cool shade. It’s worth the price.

UPF Clothing

  • There is now a wide variety of choices in clothing with built-inUPF ratings of 50+.
    • Coolibar has womens, mens, kids and babies
    • Athleta and Title Nine also have options now for working out and some beach cover-ups.
    • Mott50 has fashion forward choices, including this awesome infinity scarf accessory.

Mott50 Infinity scarf

 

Hats

  • There are so many choices in fabrics…straw, canvas, and so on.
  • The key is to find one that will cover your ears, one of the top spots for skin cancer to form.
  • Find one with a brim large enough to give you lots of coverage, but not so much that it’s droopy and impedes your peripheral vision. (I had that issue once and it was so annoying while watching the kids at the beach.)

Kids Surf Suits

Kids UPF Surf Suit

  • The adorable surf suits make playing outside all day so much easier for both kids and parents. Less sunscreen is needed and some cover from the neck all the way to the ankles. (both suits at Coolibar.com)
  • These suits are generally good for one season and not great as hand-me-downs. The fabric often gets stretched out from sand, salt and the sun and you can’t rely on the same level of sun protection.

Hydration

  • A friendly reminder to stay hydrated while hanging out in the sun. Treat yourself and the kids to new water bottles this summer to encourage lots of water intake. Flavor the water with fresh fruit or cucumbers and keep it chilled.

Stay safe as you enjoy the warm summer months! Sunscreen will always be helpful but I love that there are all these other options now to help us protect our skin from the sun.

Disclosure: Coolibar provided our family product in exchange for this post. We have been loyal shoppers of Coolibar for years and all opinions shared here are my own. Throughout May, which is Skin Cancer Awareness Month, Coolibar is giving the American Cancer Society $1 for every order placed. As an added incentive, they are also offering 15% off the entire order using the code ACS15.