Wednesday, August 8, 2007

New Website!

Please visit us at our new website, Green Girls Guide. We are continuously updating our posts and now offer the great Envirosax reusable bags. Enjoy!

Monday, May 28, 2007

Summer Sun Protection

Now that summer is upon us (well, some days it feels like it is, and some days it feels miles away here in the NW) it is time to think about sunscreen and sun protection. The American Cancer Society recommends this motto for sun protection: Slip! Slop! Slap! Wrap! Slip on a shirt, slop on sunscreen, slap on a hat, and wrap on sunglasses.

For sunscreen, choose a broad spectrum that offeres both UVA and UVB protection. Chemical sunscreens work by being absorbed in to the skin, and physical or mineral ones protect by forming a barrier on the skin. Zinc oxide or titanium dioxide offer the best UV-spectrum coverage and are well tolerated by children. It is also the safest ingredient for the environment. You want to stay away from ingredients such as PABA, Padimate-O, or Parsol 1789 (avobenzone) because they can cause stinging or redness. Make sure to apply the sunscreen 30 minutes before going outside, and reapply every 2 hours if you are not in the water, every 30-40 minutes if you are. Also, don't be stingy with the amount of sunscreen you are slathering on. It is recommended to use one full ounce every time you apply. *Do not apply sunscreen to infants under the age of 6 months*

Here is a short list of sunscreens that have zinc oxide and/or titanium dioxide as the main active ingredients, are broad spectrum, and have SPF 30 or higher:

  • All Terrain Kisdport SPF 30+

  • Badger Sunblock SPF 30+

  • Blue Lizard Australian SPF 30+

  • California Baby SPF 30+

  • Dr. Hauschka Sunscreen for Children and Sensitive Skin SPF 30

  • Earth's Best Sun Block SPF 30+

  • Jason Sunbrellas Mineral-Based Sun Block SPF 30+

  • Mustela High Protection Sun Lotion SPF 50

  • UV Natural Baby SPF 30+

In addition to sunscreen, you want to be careful about you amount of sun exposure and the timing. Dermatologists recommend staying out of the sun between 10 and 4 - I don't know about you, but for us that is not realistic. For us it is usually 12 0r 1 - 3 or so, as we need lunch and naps still. When we are out in the sun, both my kids wear wide brimmed hats that cover their neck and ears and sunglasses with UV protection. When we are in the pool or at the beach, which is a lot of the time, both kids also wear UV protective swim shirts and shorts. Lands End carries a great selection of UV and rash guard protection swimwear.

Here's wishing you a safe, happy summer, full of fun and sun!

Friday, May 25, 2007

Vegan Pizza

This is my new FAVORITE!!!

Pizza dough (I use Trader Joe's already made pizza dough you roll it out yourself, but use whatever you like)

Pizza sauce.. again whatever moves you

Lot's of veggies - I like mushrooms, zucchini, bell pepper, sun dried tomatoes, onion, and olives (I said it was a lot) LOAD 'EM on!

And the non Cheese: RAW Cashews! About a handful.

Put it all in the oven for about 10 to 15 minutes. (follow package directions for the dough you use - and check often because you don't have melted/browned cheese to be your guide.

So this is a slack recipe (my favorite) and I can whip it up while the babies are snoozing and have time to eat and clean up too! YUM!

Thursday, May 24, 2007

CFLs and Mercury...

Being the good little stewards of greenness I'm sure most of you have already heard the news that the compact fluorescent lightbulbs that everyone is touting as environmental contain mercury. I was disappointed to hear this, but did some research. There is a risk, but according to Wendy Reed, the head of the Environmental Protection Agency, in the long run the CFLs produce less mercury than the coal-fired power plants.

Check out this link to NPR.

The EPA is working with the retailers that sell the bulbs to start recycling programs as well. Ikea is the only one that has stepped up to the challenge so far. Apparently in some states it is illegal to throw away the bulbs, but even in those states few make the effort to recycle them.

GE is also concerned - though the levels of mercury are small in each individual bulb if the sales explode like anticipated (thanks to the BIG GREEN push) the levels of mercury hitting the garbage cycle will be huge. GE is looking at ways to decrease the amount of mercury and come up with better ways to recycle it.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Recipe-less Soup

I found some excellent guidance on how to just 'throw together' some soup without a recipe. I'm no chef and I'm excited to try this. You can check it out at The Mommy Spot. Diane shares lots of great advice there! This soup is veggie and I love that she uses the veggies that are typically discarded after making the stock. You get all the nutrients and they stay out of the garbage or composter!

Vegan/Vegetarian Diet Considerations

The research continues. I am reading "Becoming Vegan" by Brenda Davis and Vesanto Melina and I feel that if we/I am going to promote vegetarian/vegan lifestyle I need to point out important things you need to be aware of while adopting this lifestyle.

This book is a great resource. I've enjoyed the fact that it doesn't just wax poetic about how wonderfully healthful the vegetarian/vegan diet is... it also points out the pitfalls and things you need to look out for. They also give scientific information in easy to understand terms. Nutrition and healthful lifestyle is similar to this whole 'green' thing in that it can get rather overwhelming. For me living the vegetarian/vegan lifestyle kind of dumbs it down for me. It really ends up helping me to make consistent choices - I can't really eat most processed foods when I'm staying away from animal products so the choice is made for me. :)

Two main topics of consideration when adopting a vegetarian/vegan lifestyle are B12 and Essential Fatty Acids (Omega 3 and Omega 6)


Vitamin B12 helps build genetic material and is important for cells that reproduce rapidly - such as red blood cells, it protects the sheaths around our nerve fibers and working together with other B vitamins it converts foods to energy that our body can use. In addition B12 helps rid the body of homocysteine which if built up in the body can injure the inner lining of artery walls leading to heart disease. - excerpt from Becoming Vegan.

Non-vegetarians get B12 from the flesh of animals that have eaten things containing the bacteria and fungus that create B12. Vegetarians that consume eggs and dairy don't need to worry about this as much as vegans. Vegans need to supplement with B12 either through foods high in B12 (though these sources have proved to be unreliable - such as algae, spirulina, alfalfa, various greens, and seaweeds) or fortified foods. One good option is Red Star Vegetarian Support Formula Nutritional Yeast Powder or Flakes or other nutritional yeast supplements. You are looking to get between 3 and 6 mcg a day. Check labels of soy milks and cereals as fortification levels vary.

Essential Oils

Essential Oils

When considering a vegan/vegetarian diet you must consider your intake of Essential Fatty Acids - specifically Omega 3s. Omega 6s (Linoleic Acid) are plentiful in most diets - particularly vegetarian/vegan diets - they are found in seeds, walnuts, grains, sunflower, safflower, corn and grapeseed oils. Omega 3s (alpha-linolenic acid) are found in foods that we don’t eat in large quantities such as flaxseed, hempseed, canola oil, walnuts, butternuts, greens and soy. Polyunsaturated fats are not considered essential oils because we can make them in our body from their parent fats – Omega 6 and Omega 3 – or consumed from foods. In the Omega 6 family we can either convert linoleic acid to arachindonic acid (AA) or consume it directly from animal products. In the Omega 3 family we can convert alpha-linolenic acid to eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) or consume them directly from fish or microalgae. Though polyunsaturated fats aren’t technically called essential they ARE essential and we need to be aware of them.. particularly DHA. DHA is a structural component in the brain, the retina of the eye and sperm. Low levels of DHA have been associated with neurological and behavioral disorders such as depression, schizophrenia, Alzheimer’s and ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder). Plant foods provide very little if any Omega 3s with the exception of single celled ocean plants and seaweeds and I don’t know about you, but I don’t eat a lot of those.

When considering a DHA supplement you need to look at the source. Most DHA / Omega 3 supplements are derived of fish. If you are following a vegetarian/vegan diet these won’t work for you. You want to find a supplement that is derived of microalgae such as Dr. Udo's DHA.

Interesting Tid Bit about Vitamin D

Did you know that Vitamin D can be sourced from either animals or plants. I had no idea there were two basic types. Vitamin D2 is plant based (mushrooms, certain seaweeds and yeast) and Vitamin D3 is animal based (fish, sheep's wool, hides or other animal parts such as cow brains). If you choose to avoid animal products all together (and for you vegetarians out there) you need to be careful with some fortified soy milks and food products. When reading labels generally vegetarian products will specify D2, but if they don't you are looking for ergosterol or ergocalciferol on the ingredients list. If precalciferol or cholecalciferol are listed then the Vitamin D in the product is D3 or animal sourced Vitamin D. D3 is usually used in Milk so if you are vegetarian and drink milk and eat eggs, but avoid animal products you might want to check your milk label.

All of this being said, I am not a doctor or nutritionist (maybe some day) so take my statements for what they are... the research finds of a non-professional. I highly recommend that you do your own research and definitley recommend Becoming Vegan by Brenda Davis, RD and Vesanto Melina, MS, RD

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Conflict Free Diamonds

Getting ready to ask that special someone the BIG question? Coming up on a big anniversary and just love to buy diamonds??? Check out Brilliant Earth - they create beautiful jewelry using conflict free diamonds and they give 5% of their proceeds to African communities negatively effected by the diamond industry. You can also check out their site to learn more about these negative effects.

Another alternative to buying new diamonds is to hit your local pawn shop or estate sale for beautiful antique rings. It is rather affordable. We got my ring at A & S Jewelry in Seattle, WA. They are jewelry brokers. So my ring isn't MY grandmother's, but it's SOMEBODY's grandmother's. A great hint for recycling. :)And we couldn't beat the price!