I Have to Clean Everything?? But I Did That a Year Ago!!

A discussion on an easy swap to make in order to make Spring Cleaning a little less stressful and a lot more fun!

Click HERE and use the code SPRINGERIN for 15% off your total purchase from now until March 19!!

Image result for spring cleaning memeIt’s about that time again!

Daylight savings time has rolled in, more sunshine, spring is on the horizon! For most of us, that also means spring cleaning is starting to pop into our heads. Who here “spring cleans”?? I’ll be honest, my spring cleaning really starts in January when the Christmas decorations come down. I already have most surfaces cleaned off from switching out décor, and I find myself being way more motivated to do things inside the house than outside when it is so cold! I do though, wait until warmer weather to take down the curtains and give them a good shaking outside or to work on cleaning items on the outside of our home.

Where did this idea of spring cleaning come from?? Well, there are many “origin stories”, but people most recently contribute it to the Christian season of Lent. The first full week of Lent in the Orthodox church has been called “Clean Week”: a week to go to confession to cleanse your mind and soul and then the daily tasks of cleaning the entire home to purify and start anew! Whatever the reason you decide to spring clean your home, my hope for you is that you do it as efficiently and stress free as possible!

If you are a member of my Facebook Group (join here), you know that we did an entire 28 day “Clean Mama” challenge to help everyone start the year off organized and renewed. One thing you can’t do is rush deep cleaning, so spreading it out over an entire month really takes the stress off, and also keeps you motivated. One thing I really focused on in the group was ways to take the stress out of cleaning, and usually that is with time management tricks. Its hard enough to find the time to clean, much less having to actually do it. The ONE product that I found many years ago that saves me so much time (and money) is eCloth. This is a microfiber cloth that is woven to 1/200th the size of a human hair, which means this type of microfiber can pick up 99% of germs and bacteria using just the cloth and a little bit of water. To me this is great for 2 reasons: 1. It gets nasty smelling and lung irritating chemical cleaners out of our home and 2. I only need this and maybe two or three other things to clean my entire home. There is no lugging around of clothes, bathroom cleaner, window/glass cleaner, toilet bowl cleaner, mold and mildew shower cleaner, granite cleaner and stainless steel cleaner. My cleaning bucket used to just be unmanageable and it took time to organize it, swap out what cleaners I was going to use next if I was going floor by floor, etc.

So now in my cleaning caddy I have: dusting mitts (because they are fun and way easier to dust with!), 6 eCloths, my toilet wand and my made at home dusting spray and all purpose cleaner. I use that on the daily, but with spring cleaning, I use the same exact things! With eCloth I don’t have to worry about countless chemical cleaners when just the cloth is proven effective at scooping up those germs and bacteria…for about 7.00 a cloth!! So how exactly does it work?

Image result for ecloth

Well, I am no scientist but this is how I understand it and explain it to everyone. Ecloth testing reveals the fibers are .33 microns in size. Germs are measured in microns, so for example the flu virus is about 1 to 4 microns in size. Pollen is between 5-10 microns. Most “smaller” bacteria and viruses sit at around .5 microns, the exception being Norovirus (stomach flu) which sits at .2 microns. So there is the only real draw back…it cant get everything. Norovirus is awful and hard hitting and SUPER contagious. And this is why! Being so tiny it is very elusive and hard to get rid of! But, I never went around spraying my wood furniture with bleach or peroxide anyway, so for me, that’s ok. The mere fact that it removes pretty much all other cold/flu type germs is good enough for this Mama! (Stay tuned on a blog post about how exactly we try to avoid norovirus but also how we clean our home to prevent everyone in the home from getting it!) Microfiber is NOT cotton or polyester, its actually microtechnology plastic. Which, that can be a huge draw back to some as it isn’t the most environmentally sound way to make things. However I see the trade off of chemicals not going down into our drinking water and also less plastic waste produced from the discarding of empty cleaning bottles kind of making up for it. My thought my be illogical, but that is how it rolls in my head.

Now, you’re probably reading this going, “ok so why is this stuff so much cheaper than that other brand, it must not be as good.”. Now, let me preface this by saying: I am not bashing any other company, nor am I defaming or speaking ill of them. I love the other company, I do. One thing I wish eCloth would learn from them is their coloring. I would MUCH rather have all the warm, calming colors of that other company, but, I go by cost and necessity!! So, the main difference is the silver threading (the name of it is trademarked so I just wont even mention it here…we all know what I’m talking about!). It is colloidal silver threaded into the weave of the fabric to kill germs. Now, here is why I get a little upset over people selling it not making others aware how this actually works. The silver does NOT kill germs on contact. Think as you wipe the rag across your counter its killing them as its wiping. No, doesn’t work like that. The silver kills the germs over time as the rag sits on or in your sink. So that way it doesn’t start to smell or get mil-dewy. My main concern with this is that it makes people think these rags are invincible and can handle anything. ANY rag or chemical even can get so overloaded with bacteria that it cant handle anymore and then is rendered useless. Same with eCloth and the other brand. You can pick up so much, that it has reached its full capacity, and if you keep cleaning with it what happens??…….Cross contamination….and NO ONE wants that!!! So how do I use my eCloth? If I am just dusting, etc I use it until its just full of dust. If I am using it to clean the kitchen…any meat juice is an immediate put in the wash bucket, and I grab a new one. If just washing the counters or table after dinner I just rinse and ring out and use the next day. Bathrooms are where I use more…Ill use 3 in each bathroom. One for just toilets. One for counters, bathtub and shower, then I use the glass cloth just for the mirror for a streak free clean that you can’t even imagine! (no streaks, no lint left behind…its magical). So to get back to my point…the other company can lend itself to the possibility of one assuming the rag can be used more than what it needs to be. It also means you don’t need to wash it as often because the silver is killing those germs as it sits overnight (if it wasn’t overloaded that is). For me, I wash rags once a week, so I don’t need a more expensive rag that tells me I don’t need to wash it but every couple of weeks. $7 compared to $18-$20 is a huge difference for one small (to me) difference. Now, in your family the other may be what you need and are looking for, and that’s totally ok!! Just explaining why I choose the way I do!Image result for ecloth

So if you’re looking to save some major time and also make a great healthy and also budget friendly switch in your cleaning routine, choose eCloth. I have been using them for years when I was first introduced to another competing company that was WAY out of my budget and I thought that it couldn’t be the only one on the market. Google I went and out came eCloth. At the time I was first introduced the company was still in Europe (its a European based company-and also fair trade btw!), but it was available on Amazon Prime. However it took about 3 weeks to get in! Was totally worth it! Now with the popularity they have brought it to the states and you get your order from them within 2 days usually! How awesome is that!!?? I love the product so much and it has made such a big impact on not only my cleaning routine but also our health (I really do contribute this, along with some other healthy switches, to the lessening of colds/flus/general icky feelings in our home!) that I became an affiliate. What does that mean? No, I don’t sell it, it isn’t an MLM company. It just means they provide me with my own special link and if you order via clicking on that then I make a small commission from them! Is this a money-maker? No. But I do use the money generated to purchase fun prizes and gifts to give out in my Facebook Group! So any help in supporting that is greatly appreciated!

If you would like to view a video of me showing some of my favorite cloths and explaining more in detail about microfiber, join my group and search for eCloth and it will come up!

If you’d like to check out eCloth for yourself, use this link, and then use the code SPRINGERIN for 15% off your total purchase through March 19th!! Also, if you buy $20 or more you get free shipping! I hope you’ll check it out and help make your life a little less stressful and a little less cluttered, and enjoy your spring cleaning!!

Don’t forget, you can always reach me via the Facebook group or through email at www.thenourishedfern.com! I am happy to answer any questions!

In Good Spring Cleaning Health,

Erin

 

**All information is correct to the best of my knowledge. No trademarks, copyrights or other legal rights have been infringed upon knowingly with the publication of this article. By reading this article you agree that it is your decision and only yours in what products you choose to buy and or use. You agree that I hold no responsibility in your actions or decisions for products you decide to buy, try or use. Please see my website www.thenourishedfern.com for terms and privacy governing it and this website.**

Welcome to Elderberry Syrup Season!

Welcome to Elderberry Syrup Season! We are going to learn about all thing Elderberry Syrup! Since this is a longer blog post than most I am going to list the main topics discussed so that you know what you will be reading about and also so you can scroll to find what you need!

a. How and Why I chose Elderberry Syrup for my family

b. Benefits and studies of Elderberries and Elderberry Syrup

c. Benefits of cloves, ginger, cinnamon and honey

d. Different in Cassia and Ceylon cinnamon

e. How to shop for honey

f. What to ask/look for when purchasing local or store elderberry syrup

g. Recipe and instructions for making my “Yummy Syrup”

h. Link to a special announcement regarding my Yummy Syrup, a local charity and the holidays!

When it come to germs, cold and flu season is probably one of the most dreaded seasons for parents, second being back to school time. Kids spread germs like wild fire and there is only so much we can do, but as parents we try our best. As a first time Mom, I am always up for learning new tricks or tips from others. Anyone that knows me knows that I spend a great deal of time going down whatever research rabbit hole that has caught my attention that week. I don’t do things all willy-nilly, there’s always a purpose to my methods or my decisions, and I wanted to share a decision I made for our family a few years ago.

You see, my son was sick at the time. He had just started preschool and pretty much kept a cold non stop, and with his severe allergies on top of that, I pretty much spent our days in the docs office, or the allergist, or with Lucas on my lap doing a nebulizer treatment. We were all miserable. Then, one day at the docs office I let them know that he hadn’t gotten his flu shot. His doc responded by saying, in a nut shell, that Lucas wasn’t healthy enough to get a vaccine. That his immune system had been compromised for so long that he wouldn’t advise it. I looked at him kind of in disbelief, and, knowing me, he then said straight out, “if he were my child I wouldn’t”. Well ok then. So we didn’t. So I went home petrified of letting Lucas out into the world. You read every day about the horrors of kids and what happens when they get the flu and I just couldn’t hardly handle it. For me, times like that, that is when I turn to my research. I guess it is my way of taking control so I don’t feel so helpless. So I got my handy dandy notebook out and started googling “keep your toddler safe from the flu”. I mean, you need something to start right? So the usual…wash hands, always change clothes as soon as you come home from school or the playground, sanitize phones, backpacks, etc every day. Then I stumbled on a mom’s blog: Elderberry Syryp to prevent cold and flu. Well, ok…click. So I read, and as I tried to keep an open, yet skeptical mind I was wondering how I had never heard of this berry before…and if the flu is so bad and this works so well, why isn’t it mainstream??? Before I let myself ask anything else, I then asked this: Is it scientifically proven? Have there been any studies done to back up these claims?

A quick run down on Elderberry:

Elderberry syrup has its roots in herbal medicine, it also has the scientific research to back it up. It is loaded up with Vitamins A, B, and C, as well as iron, potassium, phosphorus, copper, fiber, protein and antioxidants. Elderberry syrup got its headlining start in Panama in 1995 when it was used to treat an influenza outbreak. Since then, it has been studied in small randomized studies, all with promising results. One study found it helped reduce cold symptoms of airline passengers faster than placebo groups.1 Another study found it reduced influenza A and B symptoms by 4 days versus placebo group.2 It is a very promising anti-viral and anti-bacterial herb.

But wait! That’s not all! Here, we don’t just use elderberry syrup to ward off colds and flus. This is a short list to highlight some of the elderberry’s benefits. Find them all here. Helps with: digestion, constipation, reduces blood pressure, reduces LDL, expectorant for phlegm (great for bronchitis or asthma), protects against effects of autoimmune disorders, helps regulate blood sugar, promotes bone strength and lessens joint pain. So while the elderberry may be popular for cold and flu, it has some other health benefits as well.

Here are some study links for you to read when/if you have the time!

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15080016

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4848651/

Now, most homemade elderberry syrup has these key ingredients: elderberries, cloves, ginger, cinnamon and honey. I want to discuss quickly why each of them have their place in your syrup.

Other ingredients:

Cloves are a spice that are usually overlooked and not thought of as a health spice. We use them come fall for a lot of our dishes, but until I started making my own elderberry syrup did I think of why. Vitamins found in cloves include: vitamin E, folate, niacin, phosphorus, iron, zinc, vitamin C, thiamin, riboflavin, and vitamin A and K. Minerals include: potassium, calcium, sodium, and magnesium. Cloves have long been used medicinally for bad breath, liver health, anti-inflammatory and anit-microbial properties. So it is no wonder why a dash of a few cloves goes a long way in your syrup.

Ginger is a well known spice with powerful anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, so much so that is has been deemed a “superfood”. The bioactive substance in ginger, called gingerol, has been found to inhibit the growth of many types of bacteria, and studies are being conducted to test its ability to possibly fight off the RSV virus. (For us parents, that is huge!) Ginger has also been found to possibly aid in: lowering cholesterol levels, decreasing heart disease risk, lowering indigestion, and lowering blood sugar levels.

Cinnamon is one of my favorite additions to elderberry syrup, as it is probably the spice I have learned the most about in my elderberry syrup journey. As soon as I started making mine I was using whatever cinnamon stick I had in my cupboard at the time. One day, at a local health food store, I noticed there were 2 types of cinnamon, each drastically different in price. Same company, both organic, totally different names of cinnamon. So I took a pic of them and as soon as my son laid down for his nap I went to work…down the rabbit hole of google once again. What I found out was that there are 2 main different types of cinnamon in our American markets, each with their own health properties. I was using Cassia cinnamon, also coined “fake cinnamon”, which is what 90% of cinnamon sold in stores here is. Cassia cinnamon, if ingested regularly can cause a few different health issues, none of which are good. For starters, and the main con of Cassia is that it has high concentrations of Coumarin. Coumarin is an anticoagulant, which thins the blood, and has been shown to cause cancer in lab rats. The absorption rate of coumarin in cassia cinnamon has been found to be that of ingesting a pure form of coumarin itself. Research has found that the Tolerable Daily Intake of cassia cinnamon is .07mg per kg of body weight. Which means that for any adult OR child who puts cinnamon in their oatmeal a few times a week is reaching an exceeding daily amount when averaged out! 

So what is a better cinnamon? Ceylon. Ceylon is named “true” cinnamon. It is the cinnamon that carries all the wonderful health benefits, such as lowering blood sugar (a great spice for diabetics),lowering heart disease risk, preserving brain function, and relieving inflammation. Each serving of cinnamon also contains a small amount of vitamin E, niacin, vitamin B6, magnesium, potassium, zinc and copper. Studies have varied on exactly how much difference the levels of coumarin are in cassia vs. ceylon. It depends on the soil, growing conditions, etc. However on average, the amount in ceylon is 70 times LESS than that of cassia.

How do I tell the difference in the store? Well, price will be one thing. Ceylon is usually about double in price. Also, the label MUST be marked “Ceylon Cinnamon” for it to be actual Ceylon. Anything with just the one word cinnamon, well that is going to be Cassia. If it is in a glass jar and you can look at it, it is super easy to tell them apart. Cassia is a dark brown-reddish single piece of cinnamon that is rolled. Just one “layer”. Ceylon is a lighter brown, very fragile stick. You’ll often see little slivers or shavings in the bottom if the jar. Ceylon also resembles the layers of a cigar. It looks like you could sit and peel off later by layer. If you are at a market and can touch them, ceylon has some give (since it is fragile) and cassia is very hard. Lastly, ceylon has a very mild smell of cinnamon. Cassia smells like, well the potpourri you buy in the store at Christmas that has all the cassia sticks in it!Image result for ceylon vs cassia cinnamon

Honey:

Lastly is the honey. Good ole’ local honey! Anyone that knows me knows that I am a honey critic! I search out the best honey I can find for the best price and I ask several questions about it, as I want the best health benefits for my family. I mean I’m going to war with cold/flu here, there’s no room in my syrup for ingredients that aren’t useful! There are 3 main questions I ask when buying honey: 1. Is it heated? You never want to buy heated honey,always raw (just don’t give this to a child under 1). When you heat honey above 105 degrees you kill off all the good anti-bacterial and anti-viral properties of the honey. 2. Is it filtered? Once filtered is okay with me, mainly because if my son sees anything in something he freaks out and refuses to eat it. If you are buying honey for its allergy benefits, you want as little filtration as possible. Pieces of pollen and comb are good, because you will be ingesting tiny amounts of this every day or every other day, which will slowly work towards protecting yourself against allergy season. So really, honey in elderberry syrup has 2 uses. First is fights against cold and flu with its anti-bacterial and anti-viral properties, and second, it helps prepare your body for allergy season in the spring and fall. Now, if you aren’t someone who has a family that suffers from allergies, then find a good raw honey and go with that, don’t worry about it being local. For allergy sufferers, research has shown that ingesting local honey for 4 MONTHS PRIOR to the start of the allergy season is the most beneficial. When you read about honey and allergies you find claims that it works and claims that it doesnt. Two things come to mind when I read these. First is that not all people are the same, one thing can’t help every single person. Second is that most people wait UNTIL they are sick to take action. They are reactive. Ingesting honey for allergies is a proactive approach. It takes time to work and for your body to build a tolerance up for itself. It doesn’t happen within a day or a week, it needs time. This is why it is a great addition to elderberry syrup. You are already taking it every day starting in November and going through March (the end of flu season). This basically does double duty for you, and when the spring comes and everyone around you has scratchy eyeballs and a sore throat, you will realize “hey, that’s not me anymore!” I can say for our family, this has been amazing. I realized just how bad my allergies were when I was pregnant with my son and wasn’t allowed to take my allergy meds. And of course everyone who reads my blog knows just how bad my son’s allergies were. If you don’t just picture this: Zyrtec in the am, rescue inhaler when needed, medical inhaler once a day at lunch (that cause God awful nightmares) and Benadryl at night. Every.dang.day. Well, the season after our first round of elderberry syrup neither my son nor I needed anything. My son would still get a little congested, but it was manageable. I mean we went from stage 4 nuclear to a runny nose. I can totally handle that! It’s been a full 3 allergy seasons now, and we have made it all 3 with no trips to the doc, no inhalers that give him nightmares, and no doing him twice a day with over the counter meds. Again though, I made him and my family take it every single day. I made a commitment to do it, we did, and we have reaped the benefits since.

The Do’s and Dont’s of good syrup:

Now that we have talked about all the good things about Elderberry Syrup and why it may possibly be a good idea for your family, lets also talk about what you shouldn’t do or should avoid when getting elderberry syrup. Even if you have someone that makes it locally, do not be afraid to quiz them on their ingredients and how they go about making their syrup! When looking to buy from the store, try and go as healthy as possible. Here are some things to look out for on both locally made and store bought:

Locally made:

  1. Are all the ingredients organic? What are the ingredients?

  2. Do they use honey or cane sugar? If they use honey, is is local or big box store bought?

  3. At what point in their cooking process do they add the honey? (the answer should ALWAYS be “after it has cooled to less than 105 degrees”)

  4. What type of cinnamon do they use? (answer should always be Ceylon..your family is taking this every single day, and if they are sick, multiple times a day)

For me, I would never purchase something locally made if it did not contain local honey in it. That is supposed to be one of the key benefits of buying from a local producer. It is my opinion anyone making homemade that is using granulated sugar is really just out for the profit and hasn’t done their research to give a quality preventative product to the community. Now, when it comes to babies, sugar is fine because they do not need to ingest the raw honey…let me just make sure I say that!

Store bought: Pretty much all store bought syrup is going to have sugar and no honey, so my recommendations for it is just to try and get as healthy as possible.

  1. Buy certified organic

  2. Get one that uses cane sugar or maple syrup as a sweetener and not high fructose corn syrup or splenda or a fake sugar.

    Let’s Get Cooking!

I always recommend making your own, because it is way cheaper and you know exactly what is going in it. A lot of people are intimidated to make their own syrup because they hear the elderberry is poisonous. Well yes and no. The berry is the least poisonous part of the elderberry bush, and the berries need to be heated for an extended period of time to render that poison inert. Many people eat elderberry pie, jam, jelly and a host of other cooked elderberry goodies 🙂 So let’s go through how to make your own for your family!!

Erin’s Elderberry Yummy Syrup:

Kitchen supplies:

  1. small simmer pot
  2. mason jar with lid, pint size if doing full recipe
  3. mesh strainer
  4. whisk
  5. large bowl
  6. meat or cooking thermometer

1 cup organic dried elderberries (I use frontier brand)

2 sticks of cinnamon

3 cloves (and only 3, sometimes 2 if they are big, or else it will be so strong tasting your little won’t take it)

1 tsp fresh grated ginger

4 cups of water

½ -1 cup local raw honey (if you have a child that isn’t old enough for honey, sweeten with regular sugar)

Directions:

Put everything into pot and bring to a boil.

Reduce very low, just a bare simmer and set a timer for 40 minutes.

After 40 minutes use a fine mesh strainer to strain into large bowl. I let sit for a few minutes to cool off then I squeeze the berries for more juice.

LET REST. For a while. The temp needs to come down to 105 degrees F or lower in order not to kill off the anti-viral and anti-bacterial properties that are in the honey. This is where a key mistake is made with a lot of cooks. I usually wait until at least 100 F just to give plenty of leeway if my thermometer is off my a few degrees.

Once cooled enough, pour in honey and stir with whisk. I usually use about ¾ cup, but you can play with it to see how sweet you need it to be for your child to take it without complaint.

Mix well and put in mason jar in the fridge. Will last for up to 3 months. (Honey is also used as a preservative)

SPECIAL NOTES:

  1. For taking: 1tsp for kids, 1 TBS for adults per day. When SICK: use same amount but take every hour until symptoms/fever are gone.
  2. For dual purpose allergy relief: make sure to start taking at least around Christmas to get the benefits come spring. If you don’t need the allergy benefits then any store bought honey will do and you also don’t have to worry about the temp of mixing because processed honey in the stores has already been heated and everything killed off.
  3. Don’t eat or let your kids eat the raw dried berries. They can be poisonous. That being said, I had NO clue about that when I first started out and I popped a couple in my mouth to see what they tasted like. I’m still breathing. So don’t freak out if they get one, just don’t let them get a tiny handful.
  4. As always, any questions, email me: raisingtinyhealthyhumans@gmail.com

***These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA, and I am not a medical professional. You read and do everything at your own risk and it is your responsibility to consult with your physical regarding allergies or negative side effects :)***

Let’s Cook Up a Little Help for the Holidays!

Let’s Cook Up a Little Help for the Holidays!

When my son was first born, I began volunteering with a wonderful local organization called Crossroads Connections. I learned about them in our local paper, how they made bags of food for the weekends for children in need. These children are known as “food insecure” children. Having a newborn, the thought of any child going without food about made me sick to my stomach, much less ones that lived within a few miles of me. So I would take Lucas and we would help deliver these food packs to neighboring schools. I fell in love with the program. It wasn’t a big program, it was started by a few people who wanted to make a difference, and they did, and they still do. This Christian based organization started in a lovely couples basement, and they currently feed 90 children a year in 9 local schools.

This Christmas season, I would like to donate 1.00 from every elderberry syrup, kit, and any product affiliate orders I am a part of to Crossroads Connections. If you would like to read my blog post on Elderberry Syrup and its possible usefulness for your family, please click HERE.

For the holiday season I am going to offer special elderberry syrup kits, packaged in pretty Christmas themed ribbon and wrapping that contain the following:

Made by Me “Yummy Syrup”– My son, at 1.5 years old started calling this his “Yummy syrup”. Everyday he asks me for it, which is wonderful because sometimes with the hustle and bustle of life I forget! So my dear friend made this label for me. Coined by my son, made by my friend, I am so blessed. This is syrup made in my kitchen, by me, and my son taste tests every batch I make. If he doesn’t like it I know other kids won’t. It needs to stay refrigerated, but will last up to 4 months in the fridge. 15.00. If you are a repeat elderberry syrup fan, it is 14.50 if you bring your original glass jar back to that I can recycle it.

 

Partial Kit– Includes everything you need to make roughly 2 pints of elderberry syrup, except for the honey. They come with detailed instructions, all of the dry ingredients, a usage card and a “Yummy Syrup” label for your jar. These are perfect for stocking stuffers or gifts that you want to mail. They will be 12.00 or 15.00 shipped to anywhere in the US.

A Full kit– This will have everything you need to make roughly 2 pints of elderberry syrup from start to finish. It will include all the dry ingredients in a mason jar with a label on it, detailed directions and also exactly enough honey for the recipe in a ½ pint glass jar. I will ship these as well, but adding ½ pound of honey will make it a little more to ship. These will be 20.00 and shipping will be based on your zip code. These are great for a full gift to a friend, new mom, grandmother, teacher, or Sunday school teacher!

Pictured to the right is a full kit, however it will be packaged with green and red ribbon and some sort of fun Christmas cheer, I just haven’t decided on it yet! I will post that when I do though!

I am also an affiliate with eCloth and Murchison-Hume home cleaning products. These are products I love, have used in my home for 4 years now, and stand behind. They have helped me make my home a more safe environment for our family, while also not breaking the bank. I do not sell them out of my home or website, I am just an affiliate. So using my links below, if you place an order, I will get a credit for that. So for each ITEM purchased (not just each individual order) I will donate 1.00.

Stay tuned for a blog post on each of those to understand why I love them so much. I will also do a Facebook live video when I return home so that you can see what I have, how I use it, and why I use these products. They also make amazing Christmas gifts. I will post the links below for each! If before then, you have any questions about them please email me or message me in our facebook group!

If you are reading this and not part of my closed Facebook group called Raising Tiny Healthy Humans (join here), please feel free to join as this is where most people will place orders for their elderberry syrup and kits. The group is for anyone wanting health and nutrition ideas, recipes, or just want to ask a question! You can also email me at raisingtinyhealthyhumans@gmail.com to place an order.

Ecloth affiliate link:

http://www.ecloth.com/#5be3534c4f0fd

Murchison-Hume affiliate link: (fig is my favorite scent)

http://www.murchison-hume.com?aff=175

See the source image

In Good, Happy, Health-

Erin

Balancing in Heels and True Roots…Lifestyle Cookbooks You Need in Your Life

Grab a coffee, take a seat and indulge in two great books!

Teen reality star and amazing cookbook author are not two things I think I would have ever put together in a sentence. So how did I stumble upon 2 really good introductions to healthy cooking that was indeed penned by a teen reality star I have pretty much done everything to avoid in my youth?..Let’s take a look.

It all started when a friend of mine told me there was a “cute new reality show about fashion and Nashville” on TV. Pretty much everyone around me knows how much I long for home (Alabama) so anything on TV that is remotely close to it, I tune in to give my accent a tune up. I started watching this new show “Very Cavallari”..wait, she looks familiar. As I googled, I realized it was Kristen Cavallari, famous reality star from Laguna Beach and The Hills. I had never watched either show and frankly did all I could to avoid reality TV in general. I never got the “Team Heidi” shirts or random jokes from that show. So here it is 15 or some odd years later, and I am face to screen with a woman I never once took seriously, only now she seemed poised, smart and articulate.

During all of my googling, I found that she had also written a couple of books. Her first one, Balancing in Heels, is about her and her life and how she has gotten to the mindset of where she is now with her health, happiness and work life. The second one, True Roots, is a cookbook she collaborated with Chef Mike Kubiesa to make an astounding entry level look at DIY healthy organic cooking for adults and kids at home.

I have never read a book, especially one that involves information about eating and nutrition, that I don’t have at least some disagreement with, but this book is different. This first book really spoke to me and I see it as a fabulous “entry level” book for anyone that is wondering how a whole foods, organic food lifestyle would work.

In, Balancing in Heels, while she mainly talks about her entry into Laguna Beach, meeting her husband and then having kids and the challenges of that, the most interesting part is her discussion of her mindset change on food. She discusses how when she was younger it was all about calories in and calories out, never looking at the quality of the food itself. When she became pregnant with her first child, all that changed.

She discusses GMOs, additives, vitamins and supplements and some quick and easy food ideas. Keep in mind though, that this is mixed into a book about her life, but if you have no interest in that, you can skip those chapters and head straight for the lifestyle. She also throws some good tidbits in there on working out with kids, and how to have a good wardrobe for home or work.

Her words are very inspiring, and she even throws in some of her favorite easy recipes in this book. I think my favorite thing about her philosophy with food is that it does not have to be 100% all the time. Moderation is key. She understands that going out to dinner, sacrifices are made and not so great food for you is usually consumed, but instead of feeling guilt or shame about it, she just goes home and the next meal is healthy, home cooked. Eating healthy is a lifestyle, not a diet, and she could not be more spot on with that or any of the other great points she makes. Is this ground breaking new info? No, it isn’t. But she puts forth this information in a relaxed, well spoken and interesting way in her book. A way that keeps you reading and not getting bored, or thinking “this is just too hard, no way can I accomplish this for my family”.

So if you are new to a healthy, organic style of cooking and eating, I highly recommend this. It is a one-stop shop for a variety of information, no need to rummage through 456 pins on Pinterest that you have saved. Also, if you are like me, and not new to this lifestyle, I highly recommend as a light and easy refresher or even just a rejuvenation of your eating philosophy and motivation.

I was glad I ordered both of her books off Amazon at the same time, because her first book really paved the way to understand why she penned a cookbook like she did, and gave her the bones fides for someone like me, a skeptic of a reality star, to actually take the cookbook seriously.

True Roots does not discuss GMOs vs. Organic foods, additives, etc like Balancing in Heels did, it is a true cookbook. There are tons of family friendly recipes in there, one of my favorites being Buffalo Chicken Salad. These actually made an appearance on one of her show episodes, Since I recognized what it was I thought “here we go, let’s start plugging the cookbook now”. Nope. There was hardly a mention of either of her books in the show, not knowing the exact timeline of filming and publishing, I am not sure if it was on purpose or not. Even then she could have been “Hey Jay (her husband) want some of these Buffalo chicken salad wraps I’m putting in my new cookbook?”. This kinda made me like it even more. The book stands alone, without her plugs about it in her new show. Another favorite of mine is her pudding pops, made totally from scratch with coconut milk, cocoa and organic gelatin. I have not made everything in this book or her first, but it is definitely one I am pulling out on more occasions than not.

So which book would I pick if I could only have one? For me, it would be True Roots, only because I am familiar with a healthier form of eating in our house. If I wasn’t, I would pick Balancing in Heels to give me the info and motivation to do so and then ask for the other book for Christmas! Oh, and one other thing, the recipes and ideas she puts in her first book are not redone in True Roots. I liked that also!

If you get one or both of these books comment in our private facebook group on which recipes you have tried and post some pics!!

In happy and good health,

Erin

Back to School…Back to Germs

Back to School…Back to Germs! Keeping your kids healthy When Going Back to School!

One of the most common questions I get asked when people hear I am taking nutrition courses is “how do I keep my kiddo healthy at school?”. I kind of chuckle to myself and tell them that the question they asked me is one of the two main reasons I decided to get a certification in nutritional health and coaching. So I wanted to share the things in our household I feel have really helped make an impact. Remember, I am NOT a doctor and this is NOT medical advice 🙂

The first half year of preschool for my son was ROUGH. I mean to the point I considered withdrawing him and just keeping him in a bubble. The sleepless nights, feeling like the worst parent ever for not being able to comfort my child when he felt so puny..it was just hard. Long story short, we went to the doctor so much for his “preschool colds” that a pulmonologist told us he was “pre-asthmatic”. Meaning he was too young to be declared asthmatic, but he was well on his way if he didn’t “outgrow” all these symptoms by the time he was 5. 5??!! I almost fell over when the doc told us that. One week later, before Christmas, he caught RSV. A healthy lung kid has a hard time with that virus, imagine one dubbed with “weak lungs”. It was a nightmare…I won’t even go into further detail than that. No way could I go on 3 more years of back and forth like this. So I came home, I googled, I googled some more…and I spent my sleepless nights researching everything I could on the presence of continuous colds in toddlers and young children. Needless to say, through my trials and errors, many of which were force tried on my husband before then trying on Lucas, I feel like we finally got a good grasp on preventative health and not just reactive health. So I wanted to share some of my daily routines of what we do here in our household. Let me start by saying this: There isn’t one magic vitamin or pill to keep anyone from getting sick. In my opinion, the way to do so means turning health consciousness into a lifestyle. Your way of thinking, doing, and planning changes. You have to look at health as the big picture, from a 5,000 foot view rather than getting into the weeds of it all and only seeing one option or a one-size fits all easy way. Your family’s health is all around you, in everything you do.

So what do we do here in our household? Here’s a breakdown with explanations below.

  1. The School supply list
  2. Healthy, rainbow colored diet.
  3. Elderberry syrup daily, not just during flu season
  4. Use of quality microfiber cloths (not talking just Norwex here)
  5. Hand washing routine after school
  6. Parents digital routine at night
  7. Lice Preventative Spray

Wow so 7 things! It seems like a lot, but really it isn’t, so let’s discuss!

  1. The School Supply List– yep, you read that right. This year, it has become my first action towards trying to keep my kiddo (and others) germ free. Most preschool or elementary teachers ask for Clorox cleaning wipes. While I don’t use them in my home (because of other stuff I discuss later), I get the appeal, I used them for years before I realized I wasn’t using them correctly. Have you ever actually read the back of those things?? You must keep the surface wet for 4 minutes for it to kill the 99.9% of bacteria it claims to. I tested this once, and wiped and area with one cloth and tested how long it took to dry (a door knob)…..45 seconds. So that means about every 30 seconds for 4 minutes I would have to reapply the cloth in order to effectively kill 99.9% of bacteria. Also, it does not kill Norovirus, aka the dreaded stomach bug/flu. After my child’s first round of that at 2 years old, and quarantining my husband so he wouldn’t get it ( I soon realized it was a total lost cause when he did) out came the internet and down the rabbit hole I went. I found what’s called Clorox Hydrogen Peroxide cleaner, both in wipes and spray. You can’t buy it in stores, but you can from Staples, here.  So I did, and with my canisters and spray laying around it’s the first thing I drop off on my Momma friends doorsteps when I get that “my kids puking” text. What’s so great about it? It only has to sit for 30 seconds in order to kill most viruses and bacteria. The exceptions being: MRSA and Staph (4 minutes) and TB (4 minutes) and Norovirus and Rotavirus (1 minute). Most of the teachers have never seen or heard of this, so I explain and then basically tell them I will provide it for the year if they use it. When I talk about cleaning our cell phone cases below, this is what I use. I also use it on toys, or anything else that I can rinse off.

The second school supply list item is Zoono. I get it from Amazon here. Unlike regular alcohol based sanitizers, this uses nano technology to create a thin film of protection on your hands. Think of it like a thin glove with thousands of tiny little spears that penetrate the outer layer of germs and kill them. What’s best about this stuff? Testing has shown that it will kill norovirus. No other hand sanitizer can do that. On a side note, testing is being done on creating commercial kitchen equipment that has this nano tech embedded in order to reduce the risk and spread of salmonella and e coli. I found that super interesting!

I started using this specifically because of their reporting on norovirus. I don’t use this daily. I know there are concerns with nano tech in cosmetics, however after emailing the company back and forth, according to them, their formula does not pass the skin barrier via absorption or into the bloodstream, it simply lays on top of the skin until the skin sheds off or it is eventually washed off. This does not take the place of hand washing. You wash your hands like normal, and they say it wears off after a dozen or so handwashes during the day. So I save this for school days, and any days where we may be going somewhere particularly germy, specifically Chic fil a play place! I ask my husband to keep some in his car and use it during flu season when he has meetings outside his office, or if anyone in his office becomes sick. I usually use it before going to the grocery store, or Target. I also started using it any time I go to a doctors office, or if I take Lucas to his doctor for a well check.

2. Diet– You have heard it time and time again….”eat your vegetables”. Well, its true. Eating a variety of fruits, vegetables, and proteins/fats (by all means eat those good grass fed/finished meats!) will truly help you and your child fight off infections. You will be hitting your daily intake of essential and nonessential vitamins and amino acids and your body will be utilizing them more efficiently than the lab made vitamins you are popping. (kuddos to those taking whole foods vitamins!) I really feel that the reason we are all so much healthier in the summer is because such an abundance of fruit and veggies are readily available, affordable and delicious. Try to carry that way of eating into the fall and winter months! Soups in the winter are a great way to do this, because kids drink the liquid part (so no nutrition is lost) and all kids like to dip, so make them a grilled cheese to go with it! If you ever need help figuring out food choices for you or your family, don’t hesitate to send me an email! Or join our facebook group and ask away!

3.Elderberry Syrup– After last year’s flu season, there isn’t a Mom around that hasn’t heard of this. Some say its folk tale and refuse to use it. While Elderberry syrup has its roots in herbal medicine, it also has the scientific research to back it up. It is loaded up with Vitamins A, B, and C, as well as iron, potassium, phosphorus, copper, fiber, protein and antioxidants. Elderberry syrup got its headlining start in Panama in 1995 when it was used to treat an influenza outbreak. Since then, it has been studied in small randomized studies, all with promising results. One study found it helped reduce cold symptoms of airline passengers faster than placebo groups.1 Another study found it reduced influenza A and B symptoms by 4 days versus placebo group.2 It is a very promising anti-viral and anti-bacterial herb.

But wait! That’s not all! Here, we don’t just use elderberry syrup to ward off colds and flus. This is a short list to highlight some of the elderberry’s benefits. Find them all here. Helps with: digestion, constipation, reduces blood pressure, reduces LDL, expectorant for phlegm (great for bronchitis or asthma), protects against effects of autoimmune disorders, helps regulate blood sugar, promotes bone strength and lessens joint pain.

Elderberry syrup can be bought over the counter, and last year it was in high demand and often people were unable to find it. I recommend stocking up before the season hits, or you can also make your own. If you do choose to buy, look for an organic brand with no high fructose corn syrup or coloring. Making the syrup is your best bet. It is super cheap compared to buying it! You can get about 100 servings of homemade for the cost of 10 servings in a store bought brand. For something your entire family should take daily (more so when you are sick), that’s a huge savings!

Taking elderberry syrup-(note I am not a doctor, just explaining how I do things!). We take it daily, everyone in our home. When someone is running a fever or feels a little lousy, that dosage goes to the single dosage amount every single hour until that person feels better. We had to spend an entire month at my parents house over the summer and Lucas came down with 2 101 degree fevers during that time. None of which lasted more than 8 hours because I never travel without the means to make syrup!

The final advantage to making your own syrup is the added health benefits. You know exactly whats going in it, it isn’t over processed, and you can add other beneficial ingredients like ginger, echinacea and cloves. AND the honey…oh the honey…well that will give you even more added protection and health benefits, not just immediately, but months down the road as well! We have all heard about the anti-bacterial and anti-viral benefits of raw local honey, as well as the allergy benefits. I have done a lot of digging into this as well (apparently all I do is research and find answers to questions!), because some doctors claim its all hodge-podge while others totally believe in it.

During my research I found that for honey to be the most effective for allergies, it must be started 3-4 months PRIOR to the season. For spring time allergies, that means starting your honey at C hristmas or the new year, NOT when the allergy symptoms arise. People have reported having lesser suffering issues if they wait until they get symptoms, but if you start prepping your body before hand, you may have little to no allergy symptoms. I didn’t come across all of this research until around April of this year. And then I realized…Oh! I’ve been giving Lucas elderberry syrup with local honey since before Christmas! And guess what…NO ONE in this house suffered from allergies this spring/summer (we will see how fall goes). Lucas was always the worst…he took Zyrtec in the am AND Benadryl at night for his allergies, along with a rescue inhaler last year (2017, from March to late fall). Not one bottle of either was bought this year, and when we went back to his pulmonologist, he cleared him of any “pre-asthmatic” symptoms. We haven’t had to go back to see him since.

4. Quality microfiber cloths– Okay, I am sure you are thinking “what the heck is this girl about to try and get me to buy?”. Nothing. A good friend of mine approached me many years ago about (specifically) Norwex cleaning cloths, because she knew we were as toxic chemical free in our home as we could be. Of course since I had never heard of this, I went home to research it, wondering what kind of money Id be spending at this “tupperware” like party of hers. I found the concept very interesting, but of course my inquisitive brain knew that this wasn’t or couldn’t be a new thing, or invention, so where did it come from? How did this start? Long story short…it let me to cleaning with microfiber cloths in my home on a daily basis, just not with Norwex. A quick explanation because I am planning on doing a post dedicated to just this subject.

Good quality microfiber cloths (like Norwex) are woven at 1/200th the size of the hair. If you look at it under a microscope, it looks like a little hook intead of a loop weave. This “hook” is what grabs dirt, grim and germs into the cloth instead of swishing them all about on your surfaces, and the size of the hook (1/200th of a hair) allows it to pick up particles as small as 0.33 microns. What does that mean…well, the flu virus is a little over 0.4 microns (some websites report .5), so technically (again, not a doc just sharing info I have found via personal research), that means if the flu virus is sitting on your counter and you clean it with a microfiber cloth woven at 1/200th , you are removing that germ. Now, I am NOT knocking Norwex. I love them, I have several of their cloths. However, I do have way more of the brand eCloth. Why? They are woven at the same size, and significantly cheaper. What’s the catch? Ecloth does not have the silver interwoven into the cloth. What does this mean? Nothing really. The silver is woven in so that you can take longer in between washings, as it provides an internal way to kill off the bacteria over time while the rag sits. It does NOT kill the germs on contact. I pretty much use a rag a day and throw it in the wash pile, because I don’t want to risk contamination, but in places where water is scarce, this would be a good option.

So what do I do with these? I clean everything with them. At night, after everyone is in bed, I take a damp cloth and I wipe down the door knobs, and anything else I feel might be compromised from the day. When its cleaning time, I clean the whole house with them. I figure wherever those germs lurk, hopefully that cloth will find them! I also keep little ones in my truck, so if Lucas or I get particularly gross, or we can’t wash our hands, I can wipe us down knowing most of the germs are being wiped off.

5. Hand Washing Routine– Like our diets, we’ve all heard this too! Wash your hands! Well, during school and especially flu season, I take this seriously! I actually put a sign on the outside of our door to our garage to remind everyone to wash their hands as soon as they walk in! No one does anything until they do. Luckily we have a half bath right at the entrance from our garage, so it makes it very seamless. At school, I take Lucas to the bathroom and we both wash our hands before we leave. Granted he somehow crawls on the floor or touches everything on the way out, but I at least tried! Plus it gets him in a routine and he doesn’t fight me on washing his hands in the house. This is a simple chore, but so many of us just don’t do it more during the worst parts of the year.

6. Parent’s Digital Routine at Night– This goes along with my nightly door knob cleaning. I take mine and my husbands cell phone cases off and sanitize them. I throw them, along with anything else that needs to be sanitized from the day (a toy he took t out of the house during flu season), into the sink, and spray with the aforementioned clorox spray. I go do some other random chore then come back, rinse off and go. I usually only do this nightly starting in late October until flu season is over. When flu season isn’t as rampant, I will switch to every other day or every couple of days depending on where we have been. We pick up so many germs via our phones, depending on where we lay them down, what we touch and then touch the phone, etc. And you know your little one is grabbing at it all the time!

7. Preventative Spray– So while lice won’t physically make you ill, the last thing any Mom wants is finding those little suckers in your kids hair! Like we don’t have enough to clean besides basically cloroxing our house from the roof down. No one has time for that! So I make a homemade spray from all organic essential oils. During school season I have 2 bottles…one I keep at home and one I keep in my purse. Because there are days I leave with him in tow and I have forgotten to do everything (sunscreen, bug spray, etc) So I keep a little pouch of all of these in my purse for those just in case days. Lord knows the one day I forget to spray him will be the one day he comes home with it!

So does this sound like I am a hypochondriac? Ha! I can assure you I am not, but what I am is a very careful Momma who wants to give her kid every opportunity to not be sick and enjoy his tiny little life!  I am probably the first Mom that would tell my kid to go play in a mud puddle, not complain if he eats dirt, or has to come back from the park wearing only his diaper.

This is just our daily routine, and what I have learned through school, as well as a ton of my own research and testing in our home. Germs are good for us, they live in us and on us and also protect us. What I try to keep away is the bad germs, the ones that want my kiddo not to be a Tiny Healthy Human.

Happy New School Year Everyone. May it be your best and healthiest yet!

In good health,

Erin

  1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4848651/
  2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15080016

Yumble Review!!

Yumble….Can it Really Help De-Stress a Mom?

Meal delivery kits are all the rage nowadays. There are several companies to choose from and most cater to a variety of diet preferences. When my husband and I considered trying one, my first thoughts when looking at the menus and serving sizes were…”why only 2 or 4?”, and “I am never going to get my picky 2 year old to eat this stuff!”.  So one night, when I couldn’t sleep, I googled “meal delivery for toddlers”. I wasn’t expecting to get any results back, but I was at least filling my time until my brain turned off enough to sleep. Much to my surprise, there it was: delivery meals for kids. A couple of different companies showed up in the results. So I ended up choosing Yumble for a couple of reasons: 1. They delivered to our zipcode,  2. the meals looked like something I would feed him on a daily basis, and 3. It was cheaper than the only other service that delivered to our area. Read on for a full review of Yumble and also a discount link to order if you would like to try it for your family!

So you may be asking, why on earth would you want a meal delivery for a kiddo? Well, for this mama it was several reasons, but the biggest reason was my stress level. My son ALWAYS decides he is starving when I am cooking. At no other time during the day does he think he is just going to fall off the face of the planet as he does when this Mama steps into the kitchen and he hears me get a frying pan out. The problem with this is that he is tugging on me, whining, wanting up on the counter, or he is just making himself at home in the pantry shoving anything into his mouth he can find. I can’t get him a decent meal ready fast enough. So the thought of a healthy pre-cooked meal waiting for him in the fridge when I start cooking that he can have was a really attractive option for me. Would it ruin meal time? Not really, because every day he already would eat his “dinner” before us, and then just sit with us at the table while we ate. So the goal was really only to get better food into his stomach, and to do that it needed to be ready to go. This way he could sit and eat while I cooked, and I wasn’t half frazzled every single night at dinner time. Also, as much as I try try try, I just do not have a day or a weekend day I can spend prepping food. That stresses me out even more, and the failure to do so when planning on doing it, just makes me feel like I’ve failed and the week has not even started yet. So for our lifestyle at the moment, this seemed like a too good to be true option.

So what exactly is Yumble? Yumble is food for kids 2-14 that is delivered straight to your doorstep. It is already cooked, and all you have to do is warm it up in either the microwave or the oven. There are some options (like the munch a lunch) that is kind of like a lunchable so no heating is necessary. You can choose between having 6, 12, and 24 meals a week delivered. The more meals you get, the cheaper per meal they cost. Delivery is always free, and depending on where you live, your delivery comes on Monday, Tuesday or Wednesday. Pricing ranges from 7.99 a meal (47.94 a week) to 6.99 a meal (167.76  a week).

In order to do a review of Yumble I had 2 weeks of deliveries sent to our house. I kept the first week and had Lucas try every one. The second week I handed them out to Mom friends with varying kid ages and asked them for feedback. Yumble didn’t ask me to write this, nor did they send me free meals to review. I paid for this on my own, because I was truly interested in this as a healthy option for my Tiny Healthy Human, and everyone else as well! All of the pictures below are from me or the Moms that volunteered to try the meals!

I’m going to discuss Yumble based on Pros and Cons of what I experienced as well as the feedback from the other Moms. So, I will go by topic and discuss the good and bad of each.

1. Website itself-Ordering is super easy, and the website very user friendly. You are allowed to skip meal weeks at your choosing. There is no requirement on how many weeks you have to buy. So you could buy a couple of weeks and then skip 4 months straight if you wanted to. The bad side of ordering is that there is no app for phones, so you have to physically log into their web browser. They send a “reminder” email to choose your meals or skip for the week, but they do so LESS THAN 24 hours before your choice closes. So if you see the email at lunch and then forget for the day and remember right when you wake up the next day (speaking from experience right there), it is too late. Since this service is targeted towards busy Moms, in my opinion,  that is something that needs to be changed. One meal delivery service my family has tried (review also coming) sends text reminders a week and 2 days before your choices close, which is fantastic! Yumble should seriously consider something like that.

2. Packaging- I was super worried about getting these meals during the summer. Would they still be cold? The answer, yes. I actually wish some other meal delivery kits we have tried would take note of how these guys ship. That being said, there was a hiccup with sweating and ruining some of the packaging on week 2. The packaging is a thick paper that comes apart and has some form of activity on it for the kids. Coloring, or making a mask, etc. If the paper gets ruined thanks to the ice packs sweating then what good does that do anyone?

3. Super Fast and Easy-All Moms reported getting the food heated up and on the table was a breeze. The bad part of this, in my opinion, is the packaging. Several other moms reported this as well. The food comes in black plastic #1 PETE. Pretty much all microwavable meals in the grocery store come in this. However, it is not a plastic I use in my home if I can avoid it. It contains Polyethylene Terephthalate, which can leach antimony when heated. Antimony is used as a catalyst and a flame retardant, and has been labeled a “possible carcinogen”. Pretty much every website I looked at that discussed plastics said this is definitely an “avoid it” plastic. It is also only manufactured as a onetime use, so if you do use it, do not re-use it!! Did that stop me from feeding the food to my son or the other moms using it? No. What the majority of us did was move the food to a glass container and heat. Now that is an extra step and one more dirty dish. So for me and some families that don’t use this plastic, Yumble isn’t a fridge to oven kind of meal. On another note, some meals do not require heating, so they are a great option for school, a field trip, or days when you just need to reach and grab a hefty snack and run out the door.

4. Ingredients- This is the BIG question here. Especially for this Mama. We eat about 90% organic in our home. Yumble is not organic but they say they “use organic ingredients whenever possible” and that when so done, they would label the ingredients as organic. So I purposefully looked at every single ingredient in every single Yumble meal we got. Never once was their an organic ingredient listed. That was disappointing. They do say their proteins are all antibiotic and hormone free. They do not use food dyes, preservatives or ADD refined sugar.The facility they prepare in is not a nut free facility, although none of their recipes contain nuts. They also cater to varying diets. There is no mention of GMO on their website and I have not received an email answer back regarding that. To me that was a little odd, considering anytime I had a question, customer service got back to me within 12 hours! They do use corn as an ingredient and also soy lecithin and soybean oil in a lot of their meals, so unless they tell me they don’t use GMOs, then you can bet those ingredients are GMO. If I ever hear back, I will edit the post accordingly.

As for the rest of the ingredients, I didn’t see any icky fillers (which is good considering they say no preservatives). They use whole wheat as an ingredient and as a mom I would prefer to see 100% whole wheat, but for me that isn’t a deal breaker. The one thing for me though, that may be a deal breaker is the sodium. I looked at the meals that I ordered for Lucas (the ones I thought he would eat) and I was appalled at the amount of sodium!! The macaroni and cheese with broccoli bites came in at 1,110mg!!!! And the “munch a lunch” I mentioned earlier packs a whopping 1,920mg!! For a 2 year old!!! I’ll be honest, it was my fault I didn’t look at the nutrition information before I ordered. I would have never in a million years let my kid eat that!

Let’s just talk about sodium for a minute so you can understand why I am not happy about this. The American Pediatric Association, World Health Organization, and Center for Disease Control have all set the “ideal human daily intake” of sodium at 1,500 or less. That is for everyone, children and adults alike. Some associations say more, some say less and some actually break it down by age group. I prefer breaking it down by age group, because I think that my adult kidneys can handle the processing of a higher amount of sodium than my 2 year olds. What I have found for toddlers age 1-3 (this is from my nutrition textbook I have referenced before on this blog) is 0.9g a day. That is 900mg of sodium. Ages 4-8 is 1,300mg and 9-13 is 1,500. So some Yumble meals have more sodium than my toddler should have ALL day! I am not ok with that. Increased sodium levels lead to increased blood pressure as a child and as an adult, with the varying other health risks associated with that. Did you know the CDC reports that 9 in 10 children eat too much sodium and 1 in 6 kids ages 8-17 are living with high blood pressure!!!??? 1 in 6!! Just.Can’t.Even. This was a blow to my heart right here. Now, not all Yumble meals are super high in sodium, so if you choose Yumble and are concerned about sodium, make sure to look at all the nutrition info before choosing the meals! (you can see all the ingredients and nutrition info when choosing your meals each week.)

5. Ok, now that I am done harping on that. Let’s look at tastiness. Did the kids actually eat these?? I saw other blog reviews of Yumble and they all talked about their picky eaters loving Yumble. Perfect. My son is super picky so this will be the magic pill. Nope. It wasn’t. He didn’t even like the cheese on the munch a lunch and the kid will scrape a hard piece of cheese off a sidewalk and eat it he likes cheese so much. He tried every single one and only ever ate a bite or 2 and wouldn’t touch it. This is honestly why I decided to reach out to my mom friends because I knew my review would have serious bias if I didn’t! So I had a total of 8 kids, ages 2-10 try these. Here is what I concluded after looking at the mom’s reviews. If your child isn’t a picky eater, this is perfect for your sanity! Super fast and easy and they gobble it up! If your child is a picky eater, more than likely they will not eat it. 100% of the mom’s who reported having picky eaters reported their kids took one bite and were done. Now, don’t let it discourage you from trying it (especially with the discount). Just go into it knowing your probability for success will be low!! Lol!! Every Mom reviewer that told me their kiddos liked the food said they would consider ordering it for their family, so to me that is a huge win!

6. Cost- Yes, Yumble is not cheap by any means. It just isn’t. It is pretty much the cost of a kid’s meal when you go to a restaurant. I did however price compare our local grocery store that delivers your groceries to your door with Yumble. Now, with getting the groceries delivered you still have to prep and cook the food. Yumble still won out on cost. If you meal plan and go  buy your own groceries and come home and once a week meal prep for the kiddos so you can essentially do this, then yes that would be cheaper. Most moms though are willing to spend a little more to have just a little more time and a little more sanity with their family, and this is definitely one way to do that.

To sum everything up,  based on experience and comments from other local Moms, Yumble is a good option for Moms and Dads who are short on time and don’t have picky eaters. If you have a picky eater and still want to try it (I would, even knowing now that Lucas didn’t like them, I like knowing that information), just do one week and then immediately skip the following weeks so that way you can wait and see if your kiddo likes them before ordering again! Everything comes straight to your door and you just put everything in the fridge until you are ready to use them.

I would recommend that if you do choose Yumble to get one or two of the little glass Pyrex dishes to put the food in to heat (mine shown to the right). If you want to try Yumble out, click this link so that you get a special Raising Tiny Healthy Humans discount. https://yumblekids.com/FWI6CW

If you decide to try Yumble, please be sure to leave a review on our Facebook group of Yumble so other parents can decide if they want to try it or not!  Happy healthy eating to you and your Tiny Healthy Humans!

Erin

Loving the Skin We Are In…and Teaching Our Kids to Do the Same!

Most of the time on the Raising Tiny Healthy Humans Facebook page (find it here: https://www.facebook.com/groups/225720924840732/ ) we talk about what we are putting into our bodies. So today, I wanted to chat a little bit about what we are putting ON our bodies. Our skin is the body’s largest organ right, so why don’t we care as much about what we put on it on a daily basis as we do the organic foods we put in it??!! I do want to broach this from the perspective of not just us as women (or men) who need daily cleaning routines, but also our kids. They are growing up, playing sports, getting sweaty, dirty, and maybe at that age where pimples are starting to show! Why not start them off with a healthy and organic way of cleaning and managing their acne so that they will continue it into their future!

I really started looking into better skin care when my husband and I were trying to have our first baby. Things just weren’t “acting” right in my body and I was on a mission to figure out what it was. I took a look at the food I was eating, and eventually started looking into the things I was putting on my skin, nails, and hair on a daily basis. I ran into words like parabens, fragrance, triclosan, sodium lauryl sulfate, BHA, PEGs, and petroleum to name a few. Now, I could make this entire blog post on the negative effects of all these chemicals, but that isn’t my goal for this blog post, so lets “Cliff Notes it” shall we?? Effects: links to diabetes, autism, breast cancer, fertility issues, endocrine disruptors, headaches, and respiratory issues, to name a few. Basically I didn’t want any of those things on my body anymore, or at least I wanted to seriously minimize my use of them. I won’t say that I have tossed all the bad ingredients, but I have learned to minimize and compromise. For instance, when at home with my hair up all day with the kiddo, or I am just showering to run to target or the grocery store, I use my “good for me” shampoo. When it is date night or I am going somewhere I want my hair to look full of volume and awesome, I opt for the one with some bad stuff in it. Everything in life is a compromise.

For so many years I have had oily skin (thanks Dad!), breakouts, rosacea (thanks Mom and my freckles!) I would try tons of different stuff, from super gentle to hundreds of dollars of “miracle” makeup, washes and creams that friends were raving about. Then, one day, I found my soul skincare line: Hippie Skin. Now, I am not saying this product is the end all be all of face care. We all have different needs, wants, price ranges. For me, however, this was exactly what I had been needing. It is an organic skin care line that uses minimal ingredients for a maximum impact. One thing I have loved about it for a while now….when Lucas unscrews the cap off my “night cream”, I don’t freak out and wash him off super fast, or stick my nose in his mouth to see if he has eaten any! I wipe off the excess and go on with our day. There are a ton of organic lines out there, but I wanted to share why I have been using this in our home for 3 years and why we will continue to do so, in case anyone else out there has broached this topic and gotten quickly overwhelmed! I am asked frequently what I use on myself or Lucas and why I have chosen to use certain products, so I figured this would be a great way to share with everyone!

If you research organic skin care online you are met with a mountain of results, and even more information coming from the companies themselves. It can be quite overwhelming and sometimes infuriating. When I got down into the nitty gritty of a lot of products, there in the ingredients were still awful combinations, how is it even possible they could call themselves an organic line? As of right now, the USDA does not have jurisdiction on labeling claims made in the cosmetics industry. So really anyone can market their product however they would like when using terms like natural and organic. So please make sure to really look at the ingredients of products when you are trying to choose one for your family!!

Picture: Courtesy of Hippie Skin

 

So what do I like about this product line? What is in it!!!…well lets just take a look:

For face wash: Hippie Honey. This has honey, lavender and carrot seed essential oil. That’s it?? For a face wash that keeps my oily skin in check, but also does not dry it out in the winter when it gets a little flaky? Yep. Let’s break these down really quick: Honey is known for its antibacterial and antioxidant and anti inflammatory properties. The natural sugar crystallizes and it basically feels like a soft sugar scrub every time you use it. Not harsh or grainy, because as you rub the crystallization melts away. So you are getting all the amazing therapies of honey, but also a daily mild exfoliation.

Lavender is known for decreasing redness and promoting blood circulation. Which I am guessing is why it is helping with my rosacea. It also promotes skin healing, so I am thinking that is what is helping reduce the appearance of these acne scars. Lastly, carrot seed has antiseptic properties as well as skin firming ones as well. It helps tighten up those pores some.

For tweens/teenagers/younger adults this would be a great product to use to cleanse the face, neck, shoulder area if they are playing sports and breaking out from sweat. No nasty chemicals, no fragrances, just good stuff from the earth.

For the Toner: Hippie Mist. Witch hazel and Apple Cider Vinegar. Just these 2, it’s all you need. The witch hazel tightens pores and also prevents build up of bacteria on the skin (fewer breakouts), and the apple cider vinegar is antibacterial, antifungal and antiviral in nature, so that is pretty much self explanatory. I actually leave this in my gym bag and spray it on my face right after a work out to avoid all that sweat bacteria going back into my pores. That way I don’t have to run home and shower right away if I need to run an errand.

For Makeup removing and moisturizer: Hippie Luxe. This has coconut oil, extra virgin olive oil, lemongrass essential oil, and sweet orange essential oil. Here is the kicker for this product: it is multi-functional! I use it as my makeup remover. I just smear it all over my face (including my eyes) and I wet my cloth and wipe it all off. Waterproof mascara and all. I never have to rub, don’t have eye lashes falling out, or have to pull and scrub at my skin (no wrinkle causing activities here) to prep my face to be cleaned well. I also use this as my moisturizer, and I need like a pin drop amount to cover my face. Other uses I have found, is for my husband. He has Kertosis Pilaris on his upper arms. It does really well in diminishing the look of that. I also smooth some on Lucas if he gets a dry patch somewhere. I also put it on cuts/scrapes to help with healing. As for the ingredients, coconut oil is known to be able to soak past the skins initial barrier, and it provides anti-inflammatory properties that can help with redness. Olive oil is rich in vitamins A,D, E, and K and can help fight against those wrinkles! It has also proven to help with cases of eczema. Lemongrass essential oil is antibacterial and antifungal and helps to reduce the excess oil on your skin, and help tighten up those pores so that less bacteria gets in (and then less breakouts). Lastly, sweet orange essential oil helps the absorption of vitamin C and supports collagen production which helps skin look radiant.

For the littles: before I let Lucas dip his finger in this I made sure that the EO ingredients were kid safe. I found that sweet orange and lemongrass eo are safe for 2 and over as long as it is diluted. But always test a little spot first before smearing it all over them!

The last item I use as my daily regimen is their Hippie Glow. It is an intensive product, with more essential oils (almond, rosemary, carrot, geranium, rose, and matcha tea). This is like your powerhouse of night creams. It can also double as a makeup primer! I don’t personally use this as a primer, because my makeup would slide right off my face, but people do rave about it as such. I use this at night, instead of the Hippie Luxe. So it can rest on my face while I sleep and do some good work for me!

Hippie Skin is a great company, and it is a small company also. Which is another reason I like it. I had one batch of Hippie Honey come once that was just not right, and within 24 hours I had another one on my doorstep. Their customer service is fantastic. Bethany, the companies creator, is just as sweet as she can be. I do not know her personally, but in the emails I have exchanged with her when asking questions about their products, she is always just so lovely. I mean, for someone who owns a company to reach out herself to answer your emails about products she created, that right there keeps me coming back. Oh, and did I mention the price tag?? I told you before I have willingly spent hundreds of dollars on stuff, to use for a couple of months and then it just doesn’t work. Well, Hippie Skin is highly affordable (a set is 45.00!!) and it lasts for a very long time. I found the first jar I bought of Hippie Honey I went through quickly because I thought I needed a big ole scoop. In reality, you need a nickel size blob and that is it! There are lots of other things Hippie Skin offers as well, and she is even branching out into natural makeup as well. When I first started ordering Hippie Skin, it was just the set and those 4 pieces, and now she has a whole line of products! I am hoping to try some of the new stuff soon!

I emailed Bethany a couple of weeks ago to let her know I was going to be posting a blog about her Hippie Skin and how much I love it. She responded back with a sweet note and an offer to all the Raising Tiny Healthy Humans readers! Use the Code tinyhealthyhumans and you get 20% off any order of $20.00 or more! This can be used as many times as you would like, for any product! A huge thank you to Bethany and Hippie Skin for that! Also, for the month of June, she is offering free shipping over 49.00 and a free 2 oz bottle of her new lotion with a 20.00 purchase. How awesome is that!!?? You can find the website here: https://hippieskin.com/collections/all

Picture: Hippie Skin’s creator Bethany, pictured on the left.

When a Mom Puts Food First

When did I decide it was okay to have a spotless house, but not a healthy family??

As a Stay at Home Mom, I have many responsibilities. First and foremost is the physical and emotional well being of my toddler, who is a spunky little 2.5 year old boy. Second comes the daily “running” of the household. This includes (but is not limited to): meal planning, grocery shopping, cooking, cleaning, laundry washing and putting away, dry cleaning, bill paying, any errand under the sun you can name, lawn maintenance, and the occasional emergency or time sensitive matter that may come up that needs to be dealt with accordingly. Doesn’t sound like a lot at a 70,000 foot view, but when you get into the weeds of it all, it is. I will be the first to admit that I have NO clue how full time working Moms do it. I just don’t. I am good at time management and multi tasking, but I can’t for the life of me figure out how working moms cram everything into 6:30pm-10:00pm.

When speaking with another Mom friend one day, telling her about nutrition classes I was taking and how I really need to put more of an emphasis on food in our home, she immediately told me she felt guilty as well, but on a whole other level. For me, we eat out maybe once a week, but when I don’t feel like cooking we just eat whatever we can find, no thought to it. For her, it was eating out, almost every night. She knew it wasn’t good for them or the kids, but she felt she had no other option. Then it struck me…why is that the only option??? Further discussion led to the realization that a lot of moms (me included) feel like the house chores must be done, everyday, no questions. If something needs cleaned or washed or ironed, that goes to the top of the list. If there is no time for meal prep, grocery shopping or cooking, then out to eat or a drive thru it is.

I took this to some other Mom friends and when asking them, it was kind of split down the middle. Some said that dinner always came first and if there was time for the house chores, they would get done. While some said the daily house work came first, dinner came when it was time to cook, and if there was no time, alternatives were met. This led to me to ask, “Why is it ok to have a spotless house, 100% of the laundry done when we have plenty of clothes to last a long time, etc and put our family’s health second, and really last?”. Do we think our husband’s will think us stay at home moms did nothing during the day if the only real accomplishment is putting a healthy, delicious meal on the table for everyone? If so, what was the husband’s reasoning for thinking that way?

Being a researcher at heart, I wanted to look into this, but did not have the time to make it an actual reliable and valid study, but we did do a little mini test in our home! Here is what happened:

For one week, family food and health came first. We defined this as being meal planning and prep (including grocery shopping), cooking, and family “fun” time. It is summer and warm and any chance we get to take our son outside or for a bike ride, it is good exercise, so we counted that type of activity as health. This food and health definition would come before any other house chores that weren’t deemed necessary or immediate. For example, if a bill was due and it needed to be paid that day, well I took the time to pay that. If a shirt my husband was hoping to wear for work hadn’t been ironed, then he agreed to pick a different one. Make sense?? He agreed not to do any more or less around the house. I have a great husband and any time that I am bogged down, he always pitches in to help more, but for this to work, he needed to do the same things he usually did as if I wasn’t falling behind!

The results?? Well, we are still married! Ha! No really, it actually didn’t have an impact on us that much. If anything, I think for my husband it actually made things better, because he knew going to work every day he had breakfast and lunch. He didn’t have to each a granola bar or go out and take time off work to deal with lunch. So for him, I think it decreased his stress level, and probably double so because he was also eating healthier and getting the benefit of feeling that as well.

Me, well I am a different story! The first day was probably the hardest to be honest! I am not used to letting things sit around or out or dirty dishes sit in the sink. I pretty much had to sit down and just focus and breathe at the end of the day!! I found a cleaning schedule a long time ago that has always helped me keep the house clean (15-20 min a day and the entire house is cleaned each week). I will be the first to admit that my house will never be “dirty”, but it can be strowed from time to time! I did still manage time to get those quick cleanings in, although I did not mop the floors…they will have to wait until next week. My handy Roomba though, has made it’s way into almost every room of the house this week.

I remember my first real food challenge came that first day as well! We had agreed no eating out, only eating at home, and 85% healthy (if he wanted some pretzels and dip I wasn’t going to stop him). I had agreed that for me, everything I plated was homemade. We got broccoli in our CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) box that week so I planned to make a quinoa chicken and broccoli bake. My son loves it, so that is a win. What I forgot was that it used 2 cans of cream of chicken soup. Sigh. What was I going to do?? For one I didn’t even have those to cheat and use, and I thought to myself, nope, this is not going to get me! I quickly looked up a recipe online for a copycat cream of chicken soup and found one that got really high reviews. Find it here: https://www.melskitchencafe.com/homemade-condensed-cream-of-chicken-soup-and-how-to-sub-in-recipes/   If anyone has a toddler, you know, if taste is off by a little they won’t eat it!

It actually really tastes like the canned variety. It is definitely going to be my “go to” recipe for here on out. I don’t even need to try any others. I found that making the soup was super easy and viola! Dinner! The soup didn’t even set me back that much time either. We did decide to go on a family bike ride while it was still light out, we had a blast! When we walked back in it was bath and bed time for the little one, and I saw all the dirty dishes and instantly felt the stress. So I said I would clean up as long as it took my husband to give our son a bath and then it was snuggles and bed time. That is exactly what I did. Not everything got done, and at the end of my night, I went to bed with dishes in the sink.

The middle of the week was much of the same. I had planned meals pretty well so there was no random running to the store for an ingredient. It was my son’s last week of preschool (he goes 3 times a week for 4 hours). So I did the health and food first. Usually while he is gone, I workout, clean different parts

of the house and pay bills and mow the lawn. This week I meal prepped for dinner, made my husband’s breakfasts and lunches to take to work, and also made sure to exercise. It is the height of strawberry season here, so when I had one day that needed no prepping, instead of cleaning the house I decided to go to the local you-pick and picked 3 gallons of organically raised strawberries (roughly 19 pounds), and prepped and froze them when I got home. I was tired and sweaty so I counted this as a win for the day. I put away delicious healthy berries for our family and I also got a workout in over those 2 hours in the field!

Picture: End of the week and our Den survived…kind of.

The end of the week came, and while the house was cluttered and dishes are still in the sink, we are all still alive. Honestly, looking back, probably a little happier and better off. I think I am. I am a lot less stressed, and I don’t feel like my husband is looking at me like I am a failure. Hopefully after this we can find a happy medium. Food does need to come first in our family above regular house chores, and I am hoping this was the motivation to make that happen. Now, if someone popped by unexpectedly, I probably wouldn’t let them through the front door…but I would bring with me a health strawberry snack for them that I had the time to actually make this week!

Picture: The kitchen is a little more cluttered than normal, but man was there a lot of cooking going on this past week!

Strawberry Season is Here!

It’s that time again…warm weather, school is getting out..AND…strawberry season! Other than the usual favorite times of year (Christmas, birthday, etc), strawberry season is something I look forward to as soon as the weather starts to cool and they are no longer available as we go into fall. Strawberries means that the hot summer air, renewal of crops, and fun of summer are just around the corner. I grew up with Aunts who made strawberry jelly every year, and I would wait patiently (or not) until we were allowed to open them to put on our biscuits! To this day, even though I live 12 hours away, my Aunts still make me strawberry jelly, and send it up with my parents when they visit. As you can tell I have a profound attachment to strawberries and they definitely are one of my favorite foods. Since it is, and since we are right in the height of strawberry season here in Virginia, I thought it best fitting to start my blog off with a kid friendly strawberry snack cookie.

Everyone knows strawberries are a fruit and technically that makes them good for us. But why?? Why are we encouraged to eat these little morsels of goodness? Well, for starters, they are one fruit that has the highest concentration of Vitamin C. Folic Acid is readily available in strawberries, something our American diet is usually lacking in, and they have more iron and potassium than any other berry. Strawberries are also a good source of silicone as well. Silicone is present in our hones, cartilage, blood vessels, and tendons to make us strong. So give those kiddos some strawberries to help their bones grow! Lastly, strawberries have 7 phytonutrients, which are plant nutrients that are all the nontraditional substances in plants (excludes vitamins, minerals, proteins, etc) that give specific health benefits. So eat on up! Only thing is, they are acidic in nature, so don’t go on overload or you may end up with a little tummy ache!

Before sharing the recipe I did want to go over some hard truths about the strawberries we buy in the store. I am all for saving money, however, when it comes to strawberries it is one of the things I always buy organic. If the store is out of organic, I head to the frozen section. If the frozen section is out of organic strawberries then, well, we just don’t get them that week. During strawberry season this isn’t an issue, but I still encourage everyone to talk to their local farmers about their growing practices! So why will I never buy these in the store unless they are organic? Just a couple of reasons…1. In California alone, more than 300 pounds of scientifically proven endocrine disruptors are sprayed on these berries. Then, usually, they are sprayed AGAIN after harvesting so they stay in tact during shipping. During the off season, if the berries come from other countries, they have been found to have even more dangerous chemicals on them, because they need to make the long journey here. Have you ever gone to a strawberry field and picked your own? They don’t last too awful long do they?? Now think if you picked that strawberry in Mexico and had to get it to your grocery store…and on top of that it is still nice and juicy a week later in your fridge. For me and my family…no thank you! So I hope this will encourage you to look a little more into the berries you are buying your family, and also to encourage you to buy from your local farmers during the season!

Now on to the good stuff! This cookie/snack recipe can be made SO many ways! It can be dairy free, gluten free, and sugar free (except for naturally occurring sugar). I will add alternatives in parenthesis to help out a little, but really you can take this base and run with it any way you like. Add dried fruits, fresh fruits, or yogurt on top!

Strawberry Delight Snack Cookies

Ingredients:

2 TBS Flax

6 TBS water

1 1/2 cups Oat Flour-certified gluten free

1 1/2 cups Rolled Oats-certified gluten free (or use same amount of cooked quinoa)

1/2 to 1 cup unsweetened Shredded or flaked coconut

1/2 cup Brown Sugar (can substitute honey or 6 small scoops of Stevia, or Monk Fruit)- When all ingredients are mixed, take a taste and see if you need it sweeter..when cooked, it will taste slightly less sweet than before you bake them.

1 stick melted unsalted butter (dairy free use 1/2 cup melted coconut oil)

1 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp salt

1-2 tsp vanilla extract

1 TBSP cinnamon

3/4-1 cup semi

sweet chocolate chips/morsels (use the diary free version, or leave this out!)

1 Cup diced strawberries (fresh or frozen)

Splash of milk (use any liquid…water, coconut milk, almond milk, etc)

Directions:

Preheat oven to 400 (if making immediately)

Mix together 2 TBSP Flax meal and 6 TBSP water and let sit and thicken…add in at the end when its good and thick.

Mix everything together, and add milk, water or coconut milk (or any liquid basically) to make them kind of almost sticky wet, basically just so they will hold together. Roll into balls however big or small you’d like and bake at 400 for about 11 min for a golf ball size. Lessen or lengthen time depending on

how big you make them. You want them to look kind of shiny wet on top, as the moisture will still evaporate a little once you take them out.

This recipe makes about 12-15 golf ball sized cookies. You can make this when you want the cookies, or what I do, is make them ahead of time, roll them out and put them in a container in the fridge and bake as I eat them. They are way more delicious served warm, plus there is no waste if you don’t eat them before they get stale. Personally I think the longer they sit in the fridge, the better since the flax and oats just keep absorbing the liquid and get softer.

Note: References for nutritional information from “Staying Healthy with Nutrition” by Elson Haas and Buck Levin (2006).