Clean Homemade Sunscreen

Sunblock

Happy summer, all!

Let’s chat about sun protection! Well, for starters, my DIY version is technically sunBLOCK, not sunSCREEN, since it contains the mineral zinc oxide (other sunblocks may contain titanium). Sunblocks protect against UVA and UVB rays. Sunscreens contain chemicals that absorb UV radiation and reduce the amount that reaches the skin.

Most sunscreens contain toxic ingredients that can disrupt endocrine function and may actually promote skin cancer growth and free radical damage. Uh, oh, right? According to the FDA, in the years since sunscreen use began, skin cancer rates have actually risen!

Sunblocks physically prevent UV radiation from reaching the skin. Sunscreens tend to be transparent and are invisible when applied, whereas sunblocks are thicker (whiter) and remain visible when applied and are more difficult to wash off than sunscreens. The appeal of sunscreens is the fact that they blend more into the skin, while sunblocks do not.

So, most of you know, I have an infant, who is now 16 months old, and we live in sunny southern California. I dug around through tons of articles trying to find a safe option for my baby, and most products are not recommended for children until 6 months of age, and even after that, there are only a handful of “safe” products to choose from. I was torn, since I like to go outside with my baby, but didn’t want to risk exposing her to harmful sun rays with no protection, so I just made my own.

The secret ingredient is NON-nano zinc oxide. There’s a lot of info out there on nano vs. non-nano, and here’s the difference: A nano particle will enter the blood stream, but a non-nano will not. For that reason, non-nano is safer. Chemical sunscreens will enter the bloodstream, so that is why they are not preferred–unless you like being at risk for skin cancer. 🙁

So, why not give this safe version a try! It’s so easy, and you can feel good about using it on your skin, and your whole family’s skin! Please always check with your pediatrician and do what feels right for you and your baby regarding skin care and sun exposure.

HOMEMADE SUNSCREEN 

  • 1 tbsp. pomegranate oil
  • 3/4 cup virgin, organic coconut oil
  • 2 tbsp. non-nano zinc oxide powder
  • 2 tbsp. shea butter
  • Small glass jar
  1. Combine all ingredients except zinc oxide in a jar.
  2. Place a saucepan with a bit of water on stove over medium/low heat.
  3. Place jar in saucepan and stir contents until ingredients start to melt.
  4. Once all ingredients are combined, add in zinc oxide and stir well. Store in a cool place.

*You can add 10 drops of essential oil to your sunblock, if desired, but do not use citrus scents as these actually increase UV damage.

Also, it may tend to melt at super hot temperatures, so store in a cool place.

For more tips and tricks on how to live a healthier life, or for one on one coaching, contact me! I’m happy to be of service to you and your family!

sunblock2

Nut Butters-What’s the “Jiff”erence?

PBlove

Creamy. Chunky. Slightly salty. Mmm! Who doesn’t love a good nut butter? And if you have a peanut allergy, it’s not a problem anymore because you’ve got so many nuts and seeds to choose from! There’s almond, sunflower seed, hazelnut, macadamia nut, cashew, sesame seed, pecan…pretty much any nut or seed you can think of, it can be ground into a smooth butter for you to make a modified PB & J or eat it plain by the spoonful straight out of the jar!

I am such a huge fan of nut butter as they provide a great source of healthy fats and plant based protein. But which nut butters are better? Is there a difference and what are the overall health benefits they provide besides the two I just mentioned (healthy fat and protein, if you forgot already)? Nuts and seeds are known as polyunsaturated fats (or sometimes called PUFAs), and are rich in omega-6 fatty acids. Dietary intake of PUFAs have been shown to decrease the risk of Lou Gehrig’s Disease. It’s also important to note that we need a healthy balance of omega 6s to omega-3s in our diet for optimal health. In our Western diet, Americans tend to consume an overabundance of omega-6 oils in their diet due to processed foods.

Processed foods as we all should know by now are foods that are meant to stay on a grocery store shelf until eternity. They contain preservatives, added colors, flavors and chemicals to make them appear fresh as the day they were made. These additives are no good for your health and actually create an alarm response in the body, contributing to inflammation. These foods are in fact “false foods” and not truly food at all, unless you consider all the above additives to be food you like to feast on. I for one, do not. I like to follow Michael Pollan’s rule of thumb and “eat only foods that will eventually rot”.

You’ll notice with natural or raw nut butters, there should only be one or two ingredients. These should be the NUT and maybe SALT or SUGAR.

Let’s take a look at one of the “not-so-natural” peanut butter brand’s ingredient list. Tell me if you can spot what’s wrong with this picture.

Ingredients:

MADE FROM ROASTED PEANUTS AND SUGAR, CONTAINS 2% OR LESS OF: MOLASSES, FULLY HYDROGENATED VEGETABLE OILS (RAPESEED AND SOYBEAN), MONO AND DIGLYCERIDES, SALT.

If you guessed “fully hydrogenated vegetable oils”, BINGO! Those are also known as TRANS FAT! Trans fats are the bad fats we are not supposed to consume because they increase “bad” LDL cholesterol and clog our arteries!

True, some of the brands that use these ingredients have shifted and started to come out with more natural products, but I say, why give your hard earned money to the guys that still put crap on our shelves? Why not support local or smaller companies that need our business more so they can continue to make a great product for us?

Which brands are best is going to be up to you and up to your taste buds. Just follow the guidelines of reading ingredients.

Some of my favorite nut butters are:

  • Trader Joe’s Sunflower Seed Butter
  • MaraNatha No Stir Creamy Almond Butter
  • Once Again Organic Sunflower Seed Butter
  • PocketFuel Naturals (I love the Chocolate  Haze, Vanilla Haze, and the Crunchy Banana Blueberry!)

Now, raw is best, if you can afford it because the nuts have not been heated, thus keeping all those nutritive natural oils in tact. The issue is, raw nut butters are pretty flippin’ expensive! I don’t know about you, but I don’t have $21 to spend on a jar of nut butter. You *can* however, experiment with making your own!

Here is an amazingly simple recipe for Raw Almond Butter:

  • 2 cups raw almonds
  • 1/2 tsp. sea salt
  • 1 tsp. raw honey (optional)

Place almonds in food processor. Process for about 10-12 minutes. You will need to scrape down the sides when it starts to stick. Add in sea salt and/or honey after you’re done processing the almonds and stir by hand.

Remember, healthy fat is good for us! Contrary to popular belief, healthy fats can actually help control our weight! They also help with fatigue and mood! Don’t ditch the fat, just consume the right kind!

For more help figuring out a nutrition plan that works for you and your personal needs and lifestyle, contact me! I will happily create a personalized nutrition plan that WORKS and is sustainable! We’ll have you reaching your health related goals faster than you can say PB & almond butter!

I look forward to helping you!

 

 

Healthy Snack Recipes for Kids

Hi friends,

So, for those of you who follow me on Facebook and Twitter, you may know that I work with kids teaching them how to eat healthy. This week has been a busy one because we had some holiday presentations in the after school program and I also taught a cooking class at the Jewish Community Center where I work as well. For the after school kids, we made Chocolate No-Bake Nutty Bites, and the kids got to pass them out to their parents. I made these as well as an Apple Sunflower Roll in the cooking class today at the JCC and both were an outrageous hit! I wanted to share the recipes with you so you can enjoy them with your family. 🙂

Chocolate Dipped No-Bake Nutty Bites

Ingredients for Bites:

  • 2 cups rolled oats
  • 2 cups puffed rice cereal
  • ½ cup finely chopped dates
  • ½ cup raw cashews, chopped
  • ½ cup natural brown sugar
  • ½ cup brown rice syrup
  • ½ cup smooth sunflower seed butter

For Chocolate:

  • 1 ½ cup raw cacao powder
  • 1 ¾ cup raw agave
  • ½ cup coconut oil
  • ¼ tsp sea salt

Also, you will need wax paper to place finished product on.

To make the Nutty Bites:

Line a few plastic airtight containers with wax paper. Kids can help measure the oats, cereal, apricots, and cashews and combine in a medium sized bowl. Mix with a big spoon. Add in sunflower seed butter and mix. I like to mix it with my hands. Don’t be afraid to get messy, it’s fun!

Next, combine the brown sugar and brown rice syrup  in a small saucepan. Cook the mixture over medium heat.  Stir constantly, until it comes to a boil and then pour the oat mixture in and stir together.

When the mixture is cool enough to handle, shape into 1-1/2 inch balls using lightly greased hands, and then place aside.

To make the chocolate for dipping:

In small bowl, combine cacao powder, agave, coconut oil and salt. Whisk together until smooth. Can refrigerate for 10 min to chill.

Take balls and dip them half way in chocolate and then directly place them on the wax paper. Put in freezer for 10 min to harden.

Apple Sunflower Roll

Ingredients:

  • 1 organic apple of choice
  • 1 tablespoon Earth Balance soy-free butter
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons apple juice
  • sprinkle of cinnamon
  • sprinkle of nutmeg
  • 1 piece of whole wheat lavash bread
  • 4 tablespoons sunflower butter
  • 3 tablespoons apple butter

Directions:

Slice your apple into 1/4″ slices. Melt Earth Balance in a skillet over medium heat. Add in the apple slices, brown sugar, apple juice, cinnamon and nutmeg. Stir until apples are coated in the mixture. Cook until the apples are soft, 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally.

When the apples are done, remove from heat, transfer to a plate and allow to cool to room temperature. Stir together the sunflower butter and apple butter in a bowl.

Spread the butters on the bread, stopping 1/2″ from the edges. Place the fried apple slices on top of the butter. Roll the sandwich. You can cut into ¼ inch rolls, in half or eat one gigantic sandwich!

For more healthy family recipes or for Nutrition Coaching services, contact me! Holiday gift certificates for nutrition coaching available and I work with distance clients via email/Skype! Email me for details!

Back to School the Healthy Way

Hi parents!

This blog page specifically targets amazing YOU! I know it’s been a bittersweet last couple of weeks with the kiddies starting or going back to school! Your kids depend on you for food that will fuel them and help them perform better! The easiest way to start a healthy trend is with BREAKFAST!

Sadly, the majority of the children I am working with are not eating breakfast at home and/or are getting something highly processed at school! Did you know that kids who eat a nutritious breakfast do better on tests, stay more alert and are better at sports? This is because they have a good start to their day! So, what are some healthy breakfast choices for kids?

  • Steel Cut Oatmeal–This whole grain hot cereal consists of slow-burning carbs that will provide long lasting and sustainable energy until they have time to have a healthy snack!
  • Veggie Egg Scramble–This will provide protein and vitamins that kids so badly need; especially early in the morning! The protein helps them to build strong muscles and the vitamins and minerals from the veggies helps keep them healthy and full of energy. Pair this with a piece of whole grain toast with nut butter for some whole grains and healthy fat! 🙂
  • Green Smoothies–Making a smoothie is probably one of the easiest things you can do for your kids, plus they can take them on the go! You can get so creative with what you put in them, too! I highly recommend Amazing Grass Kidz SuperFood Powder as one serving is equivalent to 3 servings of fruits and veggies and it also contains super greens such as wheatgrass, spirulina, barley grass, and alfalfa. This provides a whole food and vegetarian source of protein, vitamins and antioxidants and it taste GREAT! Try blending 1 scoop with 4 oz almond milk, a bit of honey and 1/2 frozen banana, YUM!
  • Nut Butter and Banana Sandwiches–Nut butters such as all natural peanut butter, sunflower seed, almond or cashew butter provide good sources of healthy unsaturated fats that kids need for brain fuel! Bananas are a popular kid fave! So, why not combine them both and give ’em a healthy breakfast sammy?
  • Gluten-free Vegan Waffles–Waffles always feel like a treat and kids usually won’t be able to tell the difference between a healthy version and an Eggo. These will provide “good” carbs and will give your kiddies energy. Make sure to only serve with 100% pure maple syrup. Pure maple syrup contains two very cool things: zinc and manganese. Zinc is great for maintaining healthy immunity (especially in children!) and manganese is an essential co-factor in many enzymes, which means it helps assist in many chemical reactions happening inside the body.
  • Dates ‘n’ Nut Butter (or, “Date Me for Breakfast”)–Dates are like nature’s candy. They are dense, sweet and provide natural sugar. Couple them with almond or cashew butter and you have yourself an amazing energy powerhouse of a breakfast! Top the date and nut butter with a walnut or pecan for added crunch, protein and healthy fat.
  • Nature’s Path Cereals–typically, you want to look for cereals that contain 10 grams of sugar or less and Nature’s Path has tons of tasty choices that fit this description! Serve up a bowl with almond milk for a comforting, familiar and healthy option!

Now that we have breakfast under control, what about SNACKS? We all know that kids need to snack more often because they are typically using more energy than adults, but it’s imperative that they snack on the right types of foods. Need snack ideas? Here are a few:

  • Fresh cut up veggies (carrot sticks, jicama, cucumber, celery, peppers, etc.)
  • Apples or bananas and almond butter
  • Home made trail mix
  • Fresh fruit such as oranges, grapes (try to stick to organic, local and in season)
  • Rice crackers and hummus
  • Corn chips and vegetarian bean dip
  • 1/2 pre-cooked sweet potato
  • Dehydrated fruit
  • So Delicious Coconut Yogurt
  • Lara Bars or Amazing Grass Energy Bars

These are just a few ideas to get you and your kids excited about starting off the new school year right! If you need more tips, recipes or a personalized plan for you and your family, so you can eat better as a team, contact me! I’d love to help you on your path to wellness! Remember, it’s YOUR home, so YOU make the rules, parents!

*Note: I work with food allergies such as gluten, tree nuts, dairy, soy, citrus, etc.

Blog Radio Interview with Coqui the Chef

Yesterday I was interview by Tania Lopez of Coqui the Chef. Coqui is based out of the Bronx, NY and this lovable Puerto Rican frog promotes healthy eating among children! You can find Coqui visiting schools cooking nutritious foods and creating awareness around health and wellness. Tania believes in indigenous eating and went back to her roots and what she believes constitutes healthy eating; whole ingredients, creating food with love in your heart, and Coqui not only speaks about consciousness around food, but he “reminds us that food is more than  something we eat; it creates and defines us…most of all it connects  us.”

This summer and currently, I am working with kids in after-school programs teaching nutrition. Tania asked me some questions pertaining to my working with kids and I was honored to be a guest on her show.

The questions she asked me were:

  1. Will kids eat healthy food?
  2. Do kids enjoy being in the kitchen?
  3. What are some healthy recipes for common kid favorite foods?
  4. What are some tricks to getting kids to eat veggies?

You can hear the entire interview here (it’s about 15 min)! I hope it presents you with insightful and interesting information!

You can also find out more about Tania Lopez and Coqui the Chef at www.coquithechef.com

If you need help feeding your kids (or yourself) better, contact me today and I’d be happy to start working with you!