Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Navitas Naturals Maca

It took two smoothies and now I'm hooked. I love Navitas Naturals Maca! It has a really yummy butter-scotchy smell and flavor--after a couple of times. My first taste, a quick lick off a spoon, was bitter. I wasn't sure about it at all. But that wonderful smell made me try again. I put a teaspoon in my green smoothie and it wasn't bitter at all, it just imparted a new taste and depth. I love finding new ways to change up the flavor of my smoothies and this gives it a malty taste, a little bit of a bite, and amps up the nutritional level to boot.

Native to the Peruvian and Bolivian Andes, Maca is a herbaceous plant grown as a root vegetable and for medicinal purposes. Said to have been taken by Incan warriors, Maca has been used for centuries by Andean cultures to increase energy, endurance, and strengthen the immune system. I've read that it's good for exhaustion (what mom doesn't need an antidote for exhaustion?), mental function, fertility, depression, anemia, menopause and stress. I've only been taking it (with smoothies) about two weeks, but I believe it really is good for energy and find myself craving this over coffee or tea for that 3:00 slump, which is meaningful.

Maca has a high nutritional value, containing protein, carbs, fiber, selenium, magnesium, and iron. It's a nutrient dense food, earning its reputation as a superfood. The company, Navitas Naturals, is environmentally and socially responsible and takes great care to bring high quality to their products. A company's philosophy is very important, you're not just buying a product, but endorsing a culture. I recommend giving Navitas Certified Organic Raw Maca a try on the merits of flavor alone if you like to change things up and discover new foods.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Farmers' Market Find: GROUND CHERRIES

Have you ever heard of ground cherries? I get so excited when I discover a new food and these are completely unique and spectacular. They look like little tomatillos--in fact, that's what I thought they were. But the farmer told me they're ground cherries and handed me one to taste. I examined it--they're cool looking, wrapped in that little protective paper like shell--and popped it in my mouth. WOW.

They are totally different from anything I've ever had. Fruity, sweet, exotic with a tomato texture, slight sweet cherry tomato taste with a little pineapple maybe, vanilla, and berry. Truly multi-dimensional. You have to taste them.

So of course I want to know more and went looking online for info. Apparently, they've been around forever, are native to Central and South America, grow all over the US and are quite prolific. The botanical name is physalis, and they are related to the night shade family.

They contain B vitamins and vitamin C and A, iron and pectin. They are said to reduce fever, and support digestion. You can put them in pies or tarts, jellies, muffins, salads, or just eat them right out of the carton--my personal preference, savoring all that flavor.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Coffee, Tea, or Rocket Fuel?

Want some rocket fuel with your glass of water? The Environmental Protection Agency is deliberating whether or not to impose restrictions on how much rocket fuel is allowed in drinking water. Absurd. What's the hold up? Defense and Aerospace lobbyists. These things make me angry--they don't want to clean up their mess.

Perchlorate, the main compound in rocket fuel, is found in the water supply of over half the country, as well as breast milk, infant formula, and organic produce for crying out loud. Regulate it. Perchlorate is connected to thyroid and neurological problems, and is particularly harmful for children. Even the CDC says that 100% of Americans have been exposed.

Against advise from medical experts and scientists, the Bush administration declined to regulate perchlorate in our water supply (surprise). Once again, Americans are exposed to serious health threatening chemicals in the name of money. Check out the Environmental Working Group's timeline of this corruption. They inundate us with stuff to make us sick and then deny us healthcare. Let's hope Obama's got our backs on this.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Cuisipro Stainless Steel Frothing Pitcher

Anything that enters my kitchen is scrutinized. Because I have limited space, I'm very picky about my stuff and want everything to be aesthetically pleasing as well as serve at least one necessary function. Cuisipro's stainless steel frothing pitcher is a perfect example.

First of all, it's gorgeous. This would fit with a variety of styles. Our house leans toward modern, and it looks smashing on the table. It is perfect for frothing, but It's also great for making hot chocolate, for containing warm maple syrup, juice, or to be used as a vase. It's solid and sturdy and striking, the photo does not do it justice.

When Fall and Winter arrive, I start hitting the coffee. If you make your coffee at home, you save money and time, and you can ensure that it's organic. I like soy lattes, and a frothing pitcher is a nice thing to have for making your own home coffee drinks. With all the different things you can use this for, I think it's a good value.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Jim's Organic Coffee

The first little waft of Fall air and what do I start wanting? Coffee. Not that there's ever a time I don't want it, but cravings hit hard when the weather turns cooler. Pesticides used on coffee are among the worst of the worst, horrible for us, the farmers and the environment. It's very important to buy organic with coffee.

Jim's Organic Coffee is a great source with a huge variety of blends and roasts and is shade grown, and fair trade. They were pioneers in the organic coffee genre, and continue to strive to become even more green.

I love supporting companies with a sincere commitment to the environment and Jim's Organic Coffee is dedicated to sustainable earth friendly practices. Not only that, but they do a good bit of charity work as well. Better for our bodies and doing some good in the world is a win-win. Why buy non organic coffee like Starbucks when you can support something like this?

Friday, September 25, 2009

Book Review: Green Smoothie Revolution by Victoria Boutenko

One of my favorite books is GREEN FOR LIFE, by Vicoria Boutenko. This book had a big effect on me, convincing me for the first time in my life to eat kale. I always tried, but never liked it and only ate it dutifully and smothered with earth balance when I did. Green For Life taught me to put leaves of raw kale in my blender with fruit for an ultra nutritious beverage/meal. I got that book two years ago and green smoothies have been a big part of my life ever since and for that I'm grateful to Victoria.

Her latest effort, GREEN SMOOTHIE REVOLUTION, has about 150 recipes for those needing ideas. There are also many stories of how individuals were able to transform their health by the simple addition of green smoothies into their diet. Public health could be completely revolutionized by following Victoria's advice, so I think it's an apt title.

After two years of green smoothies, I feel like I can't live without them. I often joke that if my house were on fire, the first thing I would grab after my son is the blender. You get hooked. My son loves them too, we drink them several times a week, and in the summer, at least once a day. Green smoothies are for everyone, not expensive, and she even tells you which greens you can find through foraging.

There is an interesting back story. Her family had some health issues the medical system failed to cure or even provide manageable care for. So she did a ton of research and her family transitioned to a raw food diet. Their health dramatically improved and then hit a plateau at one point. After doing extensive research on the chimpanzee diet, Victoria realized the missing link was greens. The story is fascinating, illuminating and very exciting. Why wasn't this obvious to all of us all along--it's so simple!

Green Smoothie Revolution stands on its own, but I would highly recommend Green For Life first. You don't have to be a raw foodist or even heading down that path. This is for everyone, and that's the beauty here, it's accessible to all. If you feel like you need to boost your nutrition levels or know anyone who is suffering from ill health or a chronic condition, these books could be potentially life changing. Highly recommended.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Nathan Stainless Steel Flip Straw Water Bottles

Here is something different on the stainless steel bottle front. Nathan bottles have an ergonomic grip, funky bright designs and colors (and plain ones too), and a flip straw. The straw part is covered in silicone, has an attached (detachable--and I took mine out) straw under the cap, and a built-in caribiner type latch to hold your keys--smart!

I can't decide if I like the smaller or bigger ones better (they come in different sizes), as the smaller bottles have a super comfortable grip and seem to hold just the right amount of water for errand running while the larger bottles would be ideal for more physical activity. No BPA or toxic anything and innovative design, brilliant.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

YogaVive Yogachips, ORGANIC Apple Chips that melt in your mouth

Increase your fruit intake on the go with these small bags of dried apple chips from Yogavive. Each bag contains a whole apple in yummy chips which come in various flavors. They're good! I love the texture, very crisp and--this is going to sound terrible coming from me--but do you remember the texture of the charms in Lucky Charms? That's the closest thing I can think of to describe the texture here. Sorry for the hideous analogy, obviously I wouldn't touch Lucky Charms with a ten foot pole, but that texture... The texture is unique and fabulous. Yogachips contain only good stuff, no nasty dyes or chemicals, just organic Fuji apples and natural flavoring like cinnamon.

My son went crazy for them and could eat endless amounts if I let him (and so could I). They're very portable and would be great for lunches or to keep in your backpack for a healthy snack on the go. Sometimes it's tough to find a healthy organic quickie snack (I'm always preparing my own stuff and sometimes there's just no time). Yogachips solve that problem and are delicious and something different--they are not like other apple chips. I love them. Highly recommended!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Product Review: Juice Beauty Organic Facial Mask

When I realized the body products I had been using---products from the natural foods co-op no less-- were full of toxins and carcinogens, I went on the hunt for products that would help my skin without hurting my body in the long term. This is no easy feat, there are not many USDA certified organic body products out there.

Luckily I have been able to find some excellent options. I have been using Juice Beauty for about a month and I do notice a difference. Part of that is that it's the first time in a long time I've taken the time to use skin care. Between being the mother of an extremely active four year old and not being able to find any decent products that I was willing to put on my face, I just stopped. What a luxury it's been to use Juice Beauty!

This mask makes my skin feel clean and soft and invigorated. I think I need a little more time to note whether it actually makes me look younger, but Juice Beauty says their products are clinically proven to reduce the effects of aging. This makes sense since they use antioxidant ingredients which scavenge free radicals--those pesky mutants that make us look older. Also, if you're not rubbing toxic carcinogens all over your skin, it's probably going to look better!

My skin is not tolerant of a lot of products--I don't like the feel of most skin care and generally can't wait to rinse it off. Not the case here. I think the problem before was all the chemicals I was unknowingly putting on my skin. It would feel heavy and stingy and cause rashes. Juice Beauty is gentle yet still feels like it's getting the job done. Kind of like a smoothie for your face.

I recommend Juice Beauty whole heartedly. Just make sure you pick one that has the USDA seal if that is what you're after, as some of their products are not certified. If you just want to treat yourself with a little perk-up, or give a great birthday present--Juice Beauty Organic Rejuvenating Facial Mask would be an excellent choice.

Monday, September 21, 2009

USDA Organic and Body Products

We know enough to buy organic food. But what about Body Products? Here's the deal: if you wouldn't eat it, you probably don't want to put it on your skin. And if it doesn't have the USDA certification seal, it probably isn't really organic.

There is much abuse going on in the cosmetic and body care industry, using the word "organic" when it's nowhere near organic and should maybe have a warning label. Because of the lack of regulation in this area, a product can say "organic" and not have anything organic in it. As the folks at Terressentials say, without the seal, it's just a word on a bottle.

Your body absorbs as much or more through your skin than it does through your gut. When you rub carcinogens or neurotoxins on your skin, it's in your bloodstream within minutes. Physically these chemicals are affecting us immediately, individually and severely with dire illnesses. Collectively, these chemicals are killing us off as a species. Think I'm exaggerating? Watch the CBC documentary THE DISAPPEARING MALE to see just how serious this problem is. It's quite urgent that we get together and educate ourselves and each other and make some changes.

I've been buying what I thought were organic shampoos, soaps and lotions only to find out they were no where close to organic. Or there might be one organic ingrediant, but on closer inspection, also had carcinogens, like parabens (KISS MY FACE, AVALON ORGANICS to name a couple). It's so maddening! When I realized that my Kiss My Face shower gel had parabens I really felt betrayed. How could they? And how could stores like Whole Foods or the Co-op sell body care with carcinogens?? The farther into the rabbit hole I go, the more shocked and outraged I am.

Companies are using the word "organic" to make a fortune off consumers who think they are getting organic, when they're not. In my book, that is fraud. Legislation is under way as I speak to do something about this, but for the time being, consumers have to be extra vigilant about which products they buy. The OCC is a great place to start with their Coming Clean Campaign. I believe consumer awareness is the way to bring about change fast, look what happened with BPA.

There is a wealth of information on the OCC site, and Terressentials has a great, readable list of ingredients to be aware of. Just remember the next time you are shopping, if you want organic body care, make sure it has the USDA seal on it before you buy.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Mother Jones takes on Fiji Water

Bottled water has become the poster child for excess and waste, with good reason. Mother Jones took Fiji water to task with this article. I'm not sure where I stand on this completely, I have never been to Fiji (unfortunately) and I am not up on my Fijian History, it may indeed be a case where the company is benefiting locals in certain ways. But it does smack of exploitation and if Fiji water really wanted to do the good they say they want to do (they're billionaires, do they really need more profit?), there are so many ways they could really help the environment and their fellow humans.

Adding more plastic bottles to the equation (which are made in China via a diesel plant) does not make sense to me. Not to mention all the ethical issues at hand. How they managed to market this water as high end purity, that people still buy it, and that it's somehow glam to drink it is amazing to me. Really? It's glam? Does anyone think it's glam to drink out of a plastic bottle?

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Game Night: Orchard by HABA

Weekends are great for game nights--it's so fun to pop in a veggie pizza and hang out at the table. The Orchard, from HABA, is a fun time for parents and kids ages 2-6. I love this game for several reasons, the first being its cooperative spirit. Players team up against the Raven, trying to get fruit from the orchard into baskets before the Raven gets it.

My four year old loves to make the "caw, caw" sound for the Raven and put the wooden fruit into the basket. I love the novelty of it being a German game and the fact that it has no plastic or toxic substances to worry about.

The Orchard is good for math skills, color recognition and camaraderie. Plus it's aesthetically pleasing and a little cheeky. A Raven and fruit, what's not to love? I think this should be a standard at pre-school as well as at home.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Organic Vegenaise

Need a healthy sandwich spread for packing wholesome lunches? Vegenaise is an animal-free friendly-fat based spread that is so good you won't believe it.

I've always hated mayonaise. The smell and the look....not appealing to me. But I happened upon Veganaise a couple years ago and loved it. It's good on sandwiches and makes for an awesome salad dressing base.

Recently, they have come out with an organic version which is my pick. It's become a staple in our fridge. If you are not familiar with Vegenaise and other products by Follow Your Heart, you can check out their site HERE.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Cell Phone Radiation Report

When "the largest cell phone study in history" stated that even one cell phone call a week could increase your chance of brain cancer by up to 60%, I took it to heart. I do have a cell phone, but it's pretty much for emergency use, or a quickie "I'm here" type call. Not for conversations. For me it is not a big deal, I'd rather not talk on cell phones anyway but I definitely feel better having one with me should I need it.

There has been a lot of discussion recently about the effects on children and adults and whether cell phones cause brain cancer. Earlier this year, Finland asked parents to limit their children's cell phone usage.

The Environmental Working Group has testified in a senate hearing their findings over the last ten months, that cell phones increase tumors with long term use. There are simple steps that consumers can take to decrease this risk. You can go to the EWG site and read the report and list of the least/most harmful cell phones and do a search of your own cell phone to see how it rates on safety standards. The EWG has some good information and tips, to read more, go HERE.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Green Porno with Isabella Rossellini

Isabella Rossellini's fabulous, avante garde series from the Sundance Channel, Green Porno, is back for season three both televised and available online. I love Isabella Rossellini and always find her work interesting. This is no exception. I also have a fondness for the bizarre and this delivers big time. It's a series of short films about marine sex life. Educational, accurate, and very amusing. Look for the book to be released September 22.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Wholesome Sweeteners Organic Raw Honey

While I do enjoy a vegan diet, I make an exception for organic honey, which, because it is animal derived, is considered not vegan. For a while I was using agave nectar in place of honey, but after much consideration and research, I'm okay with organic honey.

From what I have read and gleaned from bee keepers and eco-experts, I believe that consuming organic honey is pro-bee and pro-environment. In light of Colony Collapse Disorder, which I suspect is connected at least in part to GMOs and pesticide use, I think it is a good idea to support organic honey production.

As someone who eats a plant based diet, I am well aware that bees play a big part in the food I eat, and I feel grateful and protective. I believe a thriving organic bee population can help counteract the potentially devastating effects of the disappearing bee populations used in conventional bee keeping.

I find the taste of honey varies significantly and generally opt for a milder flavor. I suggest buying local organic raw honey at your Farmers' Market, but it's not always available. And sometimes, it's just not to your liking. Luckily, there are organic options on the market that can be shipped to your door.

Wholesome Sweeteners makes a very good Fair Trade Organic Raw Honey. On their website, they explain the ecologically and community-healthy way the honey is produced. None of their bees have been afflicted with CCD, incidentally, and the production of this honey provides stable income for Mayan communities that have been bee keeping for centuries. At the same time, this endeavor helps to protect the rain forest by providing consistent income for those resources.

I find this honey to have a mild but distinct flavor. The texture is divine, being thick and just a tiny bit sandy--if that makes sense. It dissolves slowly in your mouth and does not overwhelm beverages like tea. I also find it great for baking and raw food preparation. This would be an ideal honey to have on hand in the winter when cold season strikes. A little of this, some organic lemon and water will soothe a sore throat and cough, I think, better than any cough syrup. Highly recommended, and you can find it HERE.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Book Review: Bee and Me by Elle McGuinness

Bee and Me, by Elle McGuinness, is a heartwarming tale of a boy's chance encounter with honey bee. When one accidentally flies into his house and the two meet, the little boy learns just how important bees are. At first he is frightened, but the bee is friendly and explains that bees not only bring no harm to humans, but describes the dreary place the world would be without bees. The boy is somewhat transformed and the bee flies off happily. In the back of the book is a little fact section with interesting bee facts.

With lovely illustrations by Heather Brown, and Animotion (the images move when you turn the page--the dog runs, the bee flies, a flower blooms, etc.), Bee and Me is a sweet story that inspires appreciation for the natural world. My four year old son wants to read it over and over.

With Colony Collapse Disorder looming, I think this is a gentle way to impress upon our younger generations the symbiotic relationship we have with bees and nature. Bee and Me makes a great read for any budding environmentalist. Highly recommended.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Back to School: Watch Out for Microban aka Triclosan

Every time you turn around there's another toxin being foisted on unknowing consumers. We know enough to avoide PVCs, BPA, phalates and lead in our childrens' lunch containers, well here's another culprit to look out for. Microban. Another word and trade name for the pesticide Triclosan, Microban is found in clothing, plastics, body care products and school supplies with the implication it will keep you and your kids healthier.

Triclosan introduces a host of potential health dangers including thyroid, endocrine, and immune issues. The Organic Consumers Association has done some nice research on this and is loaded with helpful information.

Triclosan is used as an antibacterial agent and is found in common soaps (you can find a partial list
here). The FDA has already stated that those antibacterial products are unnecessary. They can cause more damage than they prevent.

You can find more about it here, just watch out for "Microban" when you're buying your kids' back to school paraphernalia and body products and when you see it, you can decide whether or not you want it in your house or on your kid.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Organic Food Healthier than Conventional, Imagine That

Remember that "study" that came out a few weeks ago claiming organic food was no healthier than conventionally grown food? Like poison laden franken foods are equal to real, unadulterated food. Anyway, there is a new study complying with "rigorous and exhaustive scientific standards" from the French Agency For Food Safety finding that organic is indeed nutritiously superior and contains less poisons, toxins, etc. which lead to serious illness. That we need a study to prove this makes my heart hurt for mankind, but whatever, good for the AFSSA and in-your-face Monsanto.

Published in the peer reviewed scientific journal Agronomy for Sustainable Development, some key points in the study: organic food is more nutrient dense, contains more anti-oxidants, and is 94-100% pesticide residue free. You can read the AFSSA report

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Lusting for EARTHLUST Stainless Steel Water Bottles and **GIVEAWAY**

Finally. Beautiful, artful, stainless steel water bottles. I love it when beauty meets function. No BPA or funky secret lining to worry about here, just non-toxic stainless. EarthLust has so many wonderful options, you won't know which one to pick. They have various sizes and designs, including small bottles appropriate for kids. I've been using mine for about two weeks--it still looks brand new and I get tons of compliments.

Win your very own EARTHLUST stainless steel bottle of choice by entering this Giveaway: Go to the EARTHLUST website, pick out your favorite bottle and follow or subscribe to Eco Mama's Guide (leaving a comment to let me know). For additional entries: 1. blog about this post and/or 2. add Eco Mama's Guide to your blogroll.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Larabar Organic Jocalat Bar: Perfect for the Lunch Box and Backpack

Larabar's Jocolat is the perfect snack or dessert when you don't have time for home made. Organic, raw, vegan, and sugar free, means wholesome energy for little ones and moms that need a quick fix. They come in an assortment of flavors, my favorite being German Chocolate Cake.

Ingredients as simple as dates, pecans, almonds, coconut, unsweetened chocolate, coconut oil, and cocoa powder make it healthy and satisfying. It's like a candy bar that doesn't give you that crash. I've been keeping these in my backpack for those moments where my four year old is on the verge and my own stamina is down. Perks us right up.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009


Living Raw Food, by Sarma Melngailis, is a collection of recipes from her restaurant, Pure Food and Wine in New York, and boy do I want to have dinner there.

I could hardly put this book down. I read it pretty much cover to cover, savoring the pictures, nutritional facts and little stories preceding each recipe. Sarma's tone is conversational, down to earth and very reassuring for people like me who are just starting out with more complicated raw food dishes.

She is a professional chef trained at the New York French Culinary Institute and knows what she is doing. Sarma makes a great point that there are difficulties and challenges in conventional cooking, and says raw food preparation is actually no harder than traditional cooking, if not easier in many ways. I felt my intimidation regarding raw cuisine fade away to be quickly replaced by excitement.

Remember a while back I said I wasn't ready to buy a dehydrator? Well, the photos in this book are so enticing I want to make the recipes, and some require a dehydrator. So guess what? I bit the bullet and got one! There are many recipes that don't, but to fully use this book--and you will want to when you see the food--you need one. If you think about it, it's not much different from buying a mixer or some other piece of kitchen equipment.

I should say that I don't have ambitions to become a raw foodist (yet). Right now I probably eat about half raw, because I love the food. I'm also mindful of getting nutrients and just don't feel right if I don't eat green every day. As much as I love the plant kingdom, I want to expand my repertoire. Living Raw Food has really motivated me to take that next step.

There is learning curve, but that's actually part of the adventure. I am completely inspired by this book, I can't wait to dig into the recipes and explore the world of raw food on the next level.

There are plenty of recipes that don't require the dehydrator. Salads, juices, and smoothies for instance. The Cilantro-Pineapple Shake is wonderful. I'm happy to discover creamy smoothie recipes that don't center around bananas. Not that I don't like bananas, but you can get a little burnt out on the kale-banana-fruit combo (my standard). You'll find soups, sauces, appetizers, main dishes, ice cream, cake, cookies, bars, and cocktails featuring sake and biodynamic wine. It's a feast.

After finishing this book, I felt like giving Sarma a big hug and thanking her for inspiring me and giving me that last little push I needed to get started. I went to her website to check out her online store,, and blog. There she generously and humorously talks about her struggles, but what is more apparent to me is what she's been able to accomplish. More power to her.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Cuisipro Herb Keeper: It Works!

At long last I've found a way to sustain my Cilantro habit. Every single time I go to the store, I buy at least one bunch of organic cilantro as I put it in everything. But more often than not, part of it turns black before I get to it and wrecks the whole bunch. At $1.50 each, it adds up. Growing it myself did not work at all, so I've been on the lookout for a solution. And guess what? I found it. Cuisipro's Herb Keeper really works and I've yet to throw away yucky black cilantro, or any other herb, since I've started using it.

I was skeptical about this at first, mainly because it's plastic and I have a thing against plastic, plus I suspected it contained BPA since it's a hard clear plastic. However, a rep at Cuisipro assured me that it is SAN plastic and does not contain BPA. I do wish it were glass, but that is my only complaint.

I've tried all sorts of ways to prolong the life of fresh herbs, and this is the most effective I've found yet. It's clean and easy to manage. You just wash your herbs really well, pull out any browning or black stems or leaves, and place the stems in the container on the stick. You fill the bottom a with about two inches of water (I change mine at least every other day) and lower the stick down into the water. And voila! Just snip off what you need, when you need it. You can find it HERE.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

CONTINA! from HaPe International

As summer is winding down and the weather is changing, kids will be playing indoors more and more. They need compelling activities to keep their attention and so do the parents who play with them. Contina! from HaPe International, is the most awesome way to while away the hours with your children.

Not your average toy, Contina! is an open ended activity that will have you creating and laughing and bonding together. I'm really gung-ho for environmentally friendly, safe, quality, brain expanding toys. Made of non toxic and eco-friendly bamboo, and under $25, it's an incredibly great value for what it is.

This is hands down one of our top three favorite toys. It keeps my son busy for at least an hour every time he takes it out (almost daily) and it holds my interest as well. We sit at the table building towers and knocking them down, creating designs, houses, flowers, animals, spelling's endless.

They are basically flat bamboo blocks, about 1 inch wide by 4 inches long by 1/4 inch thick, in a rainbow of colors and shades all in a box of a generous 120 pieces, both tactile and pleasing to the eye.

The box is sturdy and designed to used as a storage container, it has a little handle so you can carry it like a briefcase. Something as simple as that is really important to me. How many times have I bought a toy and it ends up smashed at the bottom of the toy box never to be really played with, or pieces get lost? I now look at how a toy will be stored before it comes into the house.

Designed collaboratively with the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization with teachers, technicians and designers from over 15 nations, Contina! is part of The Bamboo Collection, intended to make use of a sustainable resource while helping to provide economic growth for people worldwide. It's win-win genius on many levels.

Contina! is durable, and something you could pass down through the generations. I can't say enough good things about it. If you need a fun activity that won't lose its appeal, a gift, or something for the classroom, this is a sure thing.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Let's Do Organic Sugar Cones!

Just like you remember, only healthier. If you like your ice cream on a cone, Let's Do Organic has some traditional organic vegan sugar cones that are fab and only 50 calories each. It's been years since I've had an ice cream cone, years!

I just can't bring myself to eat junky food that is laden with chemicals I can't pronounce, preservatives, dyes and whatnot, and more and more, I don't have to. Let's Do Organic cones are minimalist in their ingredients, all recognizable and organic. Celebrate the last days summer with yummy ice cream cones filled with healthy ice cream like Coconut Bliss (be sure to enter the giveaway) and Tempt hemp ice cream! Check out Let's Do Organic Sugar Cones HERE.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Best Ice Cream I've Ever Had. Ever.

I am not kidding. I took a bite of TEMPT Coconut Lime ice cream and my jaw dropped. It's not often I taste something that makes me feel like an excited child, but this stuff rocked my world. It's quite seriously the best ice cream I've ever had.

Until recently, since discovering coconut milk based ice cream, ice creams are a delicacy that I didn't really enjoy since I'm not a fan of rice and soy ice creams. Now there are some serious options. Tempt is made with hemp milk and after having the coconut ice cream, I really didn't expect much from the hemp. Not only did it knock my socks off, but hemp is good for you.

Normally, I try to stick with certified organic food here on Eco Mama's Guide, but I am making an exception as A--it's too good not to tell you about it, and B--most of the ingredients are indeed certified organic, and a rep at Living Harvest told me the hemp is also organic, but not certified, which is very common with hemp as it needs no pesticides to grow prolifically.

Hemp is such a sustainable, useful, nutritious earth friendly crop, whenever possible I love supporting companies that use it. You can find more information about Tempt and other Living Harvest foods HERE.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Where the Boys Aren't: The Disappearing Male

The other day, a dear friend and I were talking about chemicals in sunscreen. "If you don't use the sunscreen with chemicals," she said, "then you get skin cancer and have to endure a whole lot more chemicals--chemo." But I want sunscreen without the dangerous chemicals period. You might avoid skin cancer by using sunscreen only to end up with breast cancer from the parabens in it. I don't like the skin cancer--breast cancer choice, how about no cancer at all? Let's get out of this damned if you do, damned if you don't cycle.

While it's true that if you get skin cancer you might be subjected to harsh chemicals, it's also true that those chemicals in sunscreens and fragrances and shampoos and laundry detergent are quietly destroying our bodies, our environment and our species.

Pesticides, BPA, Dioxins, Phthalates, PCBs, etc. are having a dire effect on the human species. Sperm counts are down 50% in 50 years, and over half of that is abnormal. Cancers, fetal abnormalities, genital deformities, infertility, are all consequences of living in our chemical drenched world. It doesn't have to be this way! Please watch the CBC documentary, THE DISAPPEARING MALE for a sobering look at the consequences of chemical use.

Unfortunately government regulation hasn't worked to protect us. But we are not helpless. There are two things that can change this--we all get educated about dangerous chemicals and which products contain them (and I'm talking about things you find in your grocery store and hardware store), and we stop buying them. I know we don't have a lot of options right now on the green market, but if we keep buying what is available, the market will respond.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Back to School: CROCODILE CREEK Water Bottle and COUPON CODE

Looking for a safe BPA free water bottle for your eco kid? Crocodile Creek has come out with cute, colorful and safe stainless steel water bottles that coordinate with their backpacks and lunch boxes and look great on their own.

I'm a big fan of Crocodile Creek and love their non-corporate childlike look. My son has had his Solar System bottle over a month and it still looks new. They come in a wide variety of colors and designs and you can't beat the price at $10. Use the coupon code BACK2SCHOOL on their website for free shipping.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Back to school with GRAZE Organic reusable baggies

Over 3.5 Billion pounds of trash every year comes from children's lunches. Here is another great way to reduce that burden. Graze reusable snack and sandwich bags are made of organic cotton and are the nicest ones I've seen yet in this genre.

The bags are well made and because they are organic, go a step further in their earth friendliness. Low maintenance is also a good thing--just pop them in the wash after use and they're ready to go. The designs are adorable and modern, my favorite is the Surprise bag with a big question mark. Think of what a difference these could make. "Because," as it says on their website, "every bag matters." You can find them HERE.