Healthy Living, Naturally

Welcome! This is a blog for all things relating to creating a healthy home. From non-toxic and natural products to nutritious and nourishing meals to information that will help you avoid toxic chemicals. We hope you enjoy reading, maybe learn something new and contribute to the conversation.
Yours in health,
The MightyNest team

Latest Blog Posts

06.19.14 One Simple Change: Embrace Eggs

Eggs are among the most nutrient-dense foods you can eat. Though many people worry about the cholesterol in eggs, this concern is generally unfounded: eating eggs won't cause you to develop heart disease and there’s probably no reason for you to limit eggs in your diet, especially if you enjoy them. The key is to choose eggs of the highest quality in order to take advantage of all the nutritional benefits they offer.

Cholesterol was identified as a cause of heart disease back in the late 1950s by a researcher named Ancel Keys, but his hypothesis was later disproved. We now know that cholesterol is a normal and necessary part of the human body. (The cholesterol in foods like eggs is necessary for making hormones; it also plays a role in good digestion.) We also now know that the cholesterol in the foods you eat—including eggs—is rarely to blame if you have high cholesterol in your blood; in fact, the less cholesterol you eat, the more your liver will make.  Read more...

06.10.14 Savor the Summer: 'Small Batch' Honey Sweetened Strawberry Jam

Several weeks ago, we did a first over here at MightyNest. We hosted a canning workshop at a neighborhood demo kitchen in Evanston (amazing place called Now We're Cookin'). The star of this amazing night happened to be one of our favorite bloggers, the lovely and talented Marisa McClellan. The evening was extra special because of her and everyone became smitten with her and her honey sweetened strawberry jam by the end of the night. If you are familiar with Marisa McClellan, the darling of the canning world, and the lady behind 2 best selling canning cookbooks as well as the blog Food In Jars, then you'll know what we're talking about. If not, here's your introduction. Read more...

05.30.14 We’ve Got you Covered: A Guide to Choosing Natural Sunscreens

With hundreds of sunscreen choices lining store shelves, it’s hard to choose. All claim to protect your family from the sun, and most today brag about being water resistant, so what’s the big diff?

One huge difference, that can help you narrow the field significantly, is whether the “protective” ingredients in a sunscreen are natural (aka mineral) or chemical. Most conventional sunscreens are chemical as opposed to mineral. All other claims aside, this is the critical distinction.

Chemical sunscreens do their job by absorbing UV light. Sure, they may protect you from the sun, but they may also be exposing your family to potentially toxic ingredients in the process. Mineral sunscreens reflect UV light. The main ingredient, zinc oxide, has long been known to be both safe and effective. And, because it forms a protective barrier on the skin, mineral sunscreens offer full spectrum UVA/UVB protection and are effective immediately. Read more...

05.22.14 Ready, Pack, Go! A Guide to Summer Camp Preparedness

Fond memories of childhood summers; playing kick the can, making clothesline tents, catching fireflies… So precious.

But we’re betting you probably also remember saying “Mom, I’m bored!”

A lot.

That just may be why so many kids enjoy spending at least a few weeks at summer camp. And whether it’s day camp or sleepaway, your child’s summer camp experience will mean a whole lot more than just filling time. It’s an opportunity to form new friendships and learn new skills. It’s also a time to build confidence and overcome fears. And it beats the heck out of being bored at home.

Be Prepared: Your Day Camp Checklist

Going to camp is a whole lot different than going to school. And it comes up fast. You may barely have a chance to empty the school backpacks of ratty folders and ancient tests before it’s time to fill them up again with sunscreen, bug repellent and other gear.

Start with our pre-camp checklist to make sure you’ve got everything your child is going to need: Read more...

05.19.14 One Simple Change: Get Some Culture!

Naturally cultured foods and drinks are teeming with vitamins, live enzymes, and natural probiotics (bacteria that are helpful for reducing the amount of harmful organisms in the intestines). These were prevalent in the diets of our ancestors, yet they're scarcely consumed by most people today. Cultured (aka lacto-fermented) foods are good for everyone, but they are particularly useful if your digestion is poor or your immune system is weak (75% of your immune system's cells reside in your digestive tract!). Cultured foods foster a healthy digestive environment, and contribute to optimal wellness overall.

How lacto-fermentation works: Read more...

04.23.14 Cooking From the Nourished Kitchen Cookbook

Last week, the long awaited cookbook: The Nourished Kitchen~Farm-to-Table Recipes for the Traditional Foods Lifestyle was released. We wasted no time putting this gem of a cookbook to good use and made a weekend meal from the more than 160 recipes "inspired by the seaons, land and waters" that surround author and food educator Jenny McGruther. This cookbook (and the wonderful website The Nourished Kitchen) focus on 'traditional foods' and emphasize eating "nutrient-dense, real food over the the convenience of processed, additive-laden products that are the norm on grocery store shelves."

We had a blast deciding what to make first: Homemade kefir? Kohlrabi, apple and pomegranate slaw? Roasted beet and walnut salad with spiced kombucha vinaigrette? We really couldn't go wrong and chose to cook up the pan-seared halibut with melted cherry tomatoes and tarragon. Plus we made an out-of-this-world blueberry dessert.

First off was preparing the ghee (clarified butter) which was surprisingly simple, satisfying and well worth the step.  Read more...

04.16.14 Dig it! Composting Reduces Food Waste

When you think about how much food waste goes from our kitchens into the landfill, it really makes sense to compost. Read guest blogger Winnie Abramson’s tips for easy and successful composting, then pledge to give it a try. Even if you're not a gardener, you'll be doing the earth a big favor, and you could win a Fresh Air countertop compost collector to get you started! 

Over 30% of the food that’s produced on Earth goes to waste. Discarded food usually ends up in landfills. It’s a major cause of avoidable carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions.  Read more...

04.15.14 How to jumpstart your fundraising by participating in a MightyNest for Schools Challenge

Looking for ways your school can earn a sizeable amount of money without any parent even spending a dime? You've found it with MightyNest for Schools and our school challenges. Several times a year, we offer this unique way to build excitement for healthy living at your school, raise awareness about our fundraiser and build a supporter base going forward. 

Westwood Elementary School in San Diego won a whopping $5000 in the MightyNest Back to School Challenge (Fall 2013). We asked Amber Stefanick, the leader of the MightyNest for Schools fundraiser for Westwood to inspire other school leaders by sharing how she succeeded in rallying her school to win the challenge last fall. Read more...

04.09.14 5 Wonder Plants That Make Your Home Healthier

Adding air purifying plants to your home is such a simple change yet it can have a huge impact to your health and well-being. Learn more, then pledge to try one. Your pledge will enter you in a monthly drawing for a $250 MightyNest gift card to shop for healthy gear for your mighty life. Your entry can also help your school win $1000 in our monthly MightyNest for Schools Challenge.

  Read more...

04.02.14 Easter Eggs Dyed Naturally

If you dye Easter eggs with your family, you may have wondered if there's an alternative (other than a DIY approach) to the ultra bright and toxic colors available via grocery store dye kits. Well, there is! Eco-Kids makes a fabulous natural egg coloring kit. We  know there are folks who have great success making their own natural dyes from onion skins, beets, cabbage and blueberries but this kit is a GREAT go-to kit for those who prefer a little convenience while maintaining a safe, dependable and colorful outcome. The kit includes three natural dyes (orange, blue and purple), a color chart for creating 6 colors and instructions for coloring eggs. It's super easy to do with kids -- just involves mixing colors with warm water in separate bowls (we used these Duralex small bowls) and letting your eggs take a bath for either a short amount of time  (yellow) or slightly longer for darker colors. Read more...

03.25.14 One Simple Change: Revamp Your Pantry + A Kilner Jar Giveaway!

Guest Post: This is the third post in a series excerpted from Winnie Abramson’s  book, One Simple Change. Consider her advice to do a little spring cleaning of your pantry shelves, then take the pledge below. You could win $100 of Kilner glass storage jars for your pantry, and $100 for your school!  Read more...

03.23.14 Yummy Vitamins Without Yucky Ingredients

Ideally, kids will get their nutrients from a healthy balanced whole food diet. And that is certainly a goal worth striving for. Every effort you make to feed, and teach your child about, nutritious food is tremendously worthwhile.

Experts say it might take a dozen tries or more before a kid adopts a new food, so definitely keep plugging away. Taking kids shopping and talking about food choices is an opportunity to teach them about the ingredients in packaged foods. Cooking together not only teaches them valuable skills, but whenever kids have a job to do, their investment in the meal goes way up. Eventually, it’ll all sink in. Until your kids develop rock solid healthy eating habits their own, however, a multivitamin could be a good plan B.  Read more...

03.19.14 Plastic, Wood or Bamboo: Which cutting surface is right for you?

Read why we love Bamboo, and selected our uniquely sustainable supplier, Bambu.Then tell us if you’d like to replace your plastic cutting board with bamboo… you could win a big new bamboo cutting board and more. Along with $100 for your school!

There’s so much information out there about what kind of cutting board is the best, we’d be surprised if you haven’t given the question a second thought. Unfortunately a lot of the information is conflicting, which can be confusing and frustrating.  Read more...

03.15.14 3 Reasons to Rethink Your Sunscreen

I recently counted the number of sunscreens at my local drugstore. There were 118 choices. Oddly, the display wasn't even that big, but the number of different products all leading you back to one specific need, had quite the range. I'm sure you can imagine the selling points: SPF, scent, sport, face, water-proof, sweat-proof, oil-free, ease of application....there's a lot to decipher.

To simplify: Most conventional sunscreens are chemical as opposed to mineral. All other claims aside, this is the critical distinction. 

Chemical sunscreens do their job by absorbing UV light. To do that, potentially harmful chemicals (see below) must be deeply absorbed into your skin, which is the last place you want them to end up. Dermal absorption is one of the main ways substances can enter the body. Not so great when those substances are potentially toxic. Read more...

03.12.14 A Stress-Free Approach to the Latest Plastic Panic

A practical guide to sidestepping concerns about chemicals in plastics and our favorite products that can help.

Concerns about the safety of plastics, including bpa-free plastics, spiked again in the news recently.This isn’t new news. It’s an issue that raises its head every year or two and parents can’t help feeling worried about it, potentially overwhelmed. We understand. MightyNest was founded by parents who share your concerns about the safety of the products your family uses.

After spending countless hours researching the safety of plastic, reading every piece of information we can get our hands on, there’s no doubt that the results of the research are concerning, conflicting and frustrating. Fortunately, there are easy steps you can take to avoid the controversy.  Read more...

03.07.14 Eight Essential Cleaning Products for a Spring Cleaning Detox

Sometimes it's all about getting back to the basics. When it comes to cleaning your house, less is definitely more... not less cleaning, but cleaning with less harmful ingredients. Or better yet, zero harmful ingredients. For many, "deep clean" means that strong chemical smell... you know, the one you're certain has killed off any existing germs. But it's possible to get a great clean without those chemicals and without messing with the air quality inside your home.  Read more...

03.05.14 What do Homemade Granola and School Fundraising Have in Common?

Once you grasp the simple basic technique behind making Granola, that’s when things get interesting -- experimenting with whatever ingredients you have on hand. Pledge to make some homemade granola yourself this week. You could win a Great Granola Making Kit, plus $100 for your school!

What do homemade granola and school fundraising have in common?

Ask Liz Finnamore, MightyNest for Schools Leader for Unity Nursery School here in Evanston, IL. Recently, Liz brought us some of her homemade granola (Thanks, Liz!) It was so delicious and, according to Liz, so easy to make, we thought we’d share… Not the granola, we gobbled that up, but the idea of making it!

In talking to Liz about her granola recipe and her experience as a MightyNest for Schools Leader, we realized, the two subjects had uncanny similarities. Both are easy, flexible, and rewarding. Both start with a simple framework, and are defined by whatever you put into them. And both contribute to the health and wellbeing of your family (or school)! Read more...

02.27.14 Four tips for getting lunch to school hot

On a cold winter day a hot nutritious home cooked lunch tastes and feels great.  Follow these 4 easy steps and ensure your home cooked lunch is still hot at lunchtime.

 



 

 

Step 1: Choose your container wisely


We love this thermos from Lunchbots.  The wide base makes it easier to eat. 304 grade stainless steel interior, including the underside of the lid, ensures no plastic is coming into contact with your hot food.  And, of course, the insulation keeps food hot! 

 

 

 

Step 2: Pre-heat your container Read more...

02.25.14 A 5 Minute Yoga Practice May Be All You Need Today

Any Yogi will tell you - the practice of yoga isn’t really about putting your body into poses. It’s a way of living. We could spend 3 hours a day doing poses, but  if we spend the rest of the day being stressed out, distracted, treating ourselves and others poorly, we would not be practicing yoga.

There’s something very seductive about stressing out. It makes us feel like we’re being productive, even when we’re just spinning our wheels. Really stop for just 5 minutes. Reset. Breathe deeply. Gently release your grasp on the to do list. It will make a difference. Read more...

02.24.14 One Simple Change: Be Kind To Yourself

Guest post: In this second post in a series excerpted from her book, One Simple Change, Winnie Abramson reminds us how important it is to treat ourselves with the same love and compassion we give to others.

Consider her wise words, then pledge to be extra kind to yourself this week. You could win some seriously sweet gear for yourself from Mightynest.  Read more...

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