Monday Meditation: Maya Angelou on Love

maya angelou

Super Nutritious Game-Day Spinach Dip

spinach dip

Buffalo chicken, cheese dip, and beer—these typical game day flavors can’t compare to this healthy and tasty raw dip. The fresh spinach, creamy avocado, plus the unique taste of curry powder makes it a refreshing combination of flavors. And since many Super Bowl party appetizers often feel heavy, this lighter option will really stand out in a crowd and help you keep up your energy for cheering on your favorite team.

By combining iron-rich foods (such as spinach) with food rich in vitamin C (such as the lime), your body better absorbs the iron. Add in the avocado and you get some additional vitamin C, fiber, and potassium. And the curry powder is known to be a strong anti-inflammatory. Delicious and nutritious—what’s not to love?

You’ll score points with everyone when you serve this curried spinach dip on game day!

Curried Spinach Dip

Serves 4–8 as a dip 

Spinach dip is always an easy favorite. The addition of curry gives this an extra boost of health and flavor!

Ingredients

  • 6 cups fresh spinach
  • 1 large avocado or 2 small, peeled and pitted
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon curry powder
  • 1⁄4 teaspoon cayenne, more to taste
  • 1⁄3 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 date (optional)
  • Water, if needed to blend until smooth
  • Sea salt and pepper, to taste

Directions

Finely chop spinach and place in bowl of food processor. Add avocado and lime juice and blend until smooth. Add remaining ingredients and process until well combined. We love to serve this with standard crudités or jicama.

We can’t wait to nosh on these dips, crowd-pleasing chili, and shredded chickenWhat food are you planning to make for the big game? Tell us in the comments.

Photo Credit: Adrian Mueller 
Book Credit: Meredith Baird and Matthew Kenney 
How To Create a Modern, Eco-Friendly Nursery For Baby

Finding cute, eco-friendly baby items is getting easier and easier. If you want to go green with your decor, you no longer have to choose from the standard muted tones that sustainable design is known for. Now there are plenty of environmentally friendly nursery items that incorporate cheerful color into your baby’s room, so it’s possible to move beyond the beige!

Bonus! Eco-friendly items have less of an impact on the environment. Things made with sustainable and organic materials, and non-toxic chemicals are healthier for your family and planet earth.

Here, we’ve compiled a selection of nursery furniture, must-haves, cute toys, and decorating tips to help you get started. When creating your registry for your nursery or making inspiration boards, remember babies’ brains are like sponges soaking up the environment around them. Consider how stimulating, comforting, and imaginative you want the design to be. Mix these fun items with your functional must-haves to create a nurturing, eco-friendly space:

eco-friendly nursery 6

  1. This handmade felt garland in bright, vivid colors makes a great gift for a baby shower.
  2. Fly high with this nostalgic wooden airplane. Handmade from cherry, red oak, granadillo, and hardwood, plus non-toxic finish, this heirloom-quality toy will be a keepsake for many years.
  3. A sweet and creative design, this sleepy lion pillow cover is made from natural linen. It’s machine washable (on gentle cycle)—great for busy moms!
  4. Add some color and imagination to nursery walls with these non-toxic hot air balloon wall stickers
  5. Get your little one appreciating nature from an early age. This watercolor fox print measures 8×10 inches and is printed on 100% cotton paper.
  6. This hand painted light switch cover can be customized with your baby’s name. Made of ceramic and kiln-fired, the light switch is 100% lead-free.
  7. Made from premium organic cotton, this flag banner features seven flags in soft blues, gray, orange, and white.
  8. This rustic bookcase is a great piece for fashionably storing baby’s books, toys, and other items. Made from recycled cedar, you can choose the color and cut-outs of this bookcase. 
  9. Soft and safe, this organic frog rattle is handcrafted from a seller on Etsy.

 

eco-friendly nursery 2

  1. This “a day in the park” eco-friendly, non-toxic wallpaper from Etsy comes in a variety of designs but we love this nature-inspired print.
  2. New parents will appreciate this cute and practical sheep wall clock. Made from 3-ply bamboo (a sustainable material), this clock has more than 2,000 positive reviews on Etsy.
  3. This organic made-to-order pillow cover has an envelope closure that makes washing a breeze. 
  4. Here’s a clever and affordable idea from The Honest LifeSimply up-cycle old scraps of fabric in pretty frames, or paint existing frames with no-VOC paint.
  5. This modern playhouse is sure to stoke curiosity as your little one grows. And the bold color and modern design adds some interest to a nursery room.
  6. Store baby’s first books in this woodland creatures bookshelf is made from wood and non-toxic paint.
  7. Repurposed from the Tale of Peter Rabbit, this banner comes with 12 flags and can be hung around windows, a crib, or hang on nursery walls. 
  8. How cute and girly is this handmade rag doll? “Flora” is made from all organic materials and would make the perfect decor item for a bookshelf or dresser. Once your baby girl is old enough to play with her, Flora’s braided hair can be undone and played with. She also comes with two scraps of organic cotton/soy/spandex jersey to use as hair ties, belts, or a head wrap.
  9. Eco-friendly and organic, these two stuffed mom-and-baby penguins would be great for decor and as toys.
  10. Your baby will love the color, texture, and sounds of this 5-inch organic crochet ball rattle. Twelve African flower motifs are sewn together to make this mauve, purple, powder pink, light green, and turquoise rattle.

 

eco-friendly nursery 3

  1. Our new crib is Honestly amazing—functional, stylish, and of course, completely safe for your baby. The 4-in-1 design lets you transform it from a baby’s crib to a daybed to a toddler bed to a full size bed for big kids.
  2. You’ll want to get a non-toxic, organic crib mattress since baby will spend so much time in his crib and his little body is extra sensitive to chemicals that might be in typical mattresses. This one from Naturepedic is also waterproof.
  3. It’s a good idea to have a few washable changing pad covers handy. This changing pad cover is available on Etsy and made from organic flannel. It can be customized to fit the size of your changing pad.
  4. Our swaddle blankets come in packs of 3 and are made in collaboration with aden + anais. Lightweight, generously sized blankets are made from 100% GOTS certified organic cotton muslin.
  5. A colorful rug will brighten-up a room, keep your feet warm if you have hardwood floors, and provide a soft surface for baby to play. This hand-braided rug is made from new USA organic cotton and some recycled T-shirts, and is machine washable.
  6. The Nuna LEAF organic baby rocker takes inspiration from the movement of a leaf in the breeze. The rocker is noise-free and motor-free, and will gently move for 2 minutes. Made from aluminum alloy, steel, and organic cotton.
  7. Paint is the easiest and cheapest way to liven-up a room. Mythic Paint creates non-toxic paints free of VOCs (volatile organic compounds).
  8. Somewhere to sit while nursing is essential in any nursery. This rocker and ottoman are made from mostly recycled materials.
  9. Ensure the air baby breathes is pure and clean with this BioGS air purifier from Rabbit Air.
  10. You’ll need somewhere to store all of baby’s toys. We love this safari-themed toy box because it’s made from solid eco-friendly rubberwood, crafted with formaldehyde-free glue, and painted with non-toxic paint.

 

Decorating Tips

  • Decorating doesn’t have to be expensive. In The Honest Life, Jessica recommends shopping yard sales and Craigslist for used wooden items. You can refinish and re-paint these finds with no-VOC paint. This way, you get new furniture that’s eco-friendly, non-toxic, affordable, and original. In a nursery the wooden items you’ll need are a dresser (with room for a changing table on top), a side table, a crib, and a rocking chair with an ottoman.
  • On a similar thread, if you buy basic nursery furniture you can personalize it by adding non-toxic wallpaper or fabric to the front side of the drawers, or change the knobs out with fun, colorful ones.
  • Paint is one of the easiest (and most affordable!) ways to add color and personality to a room. Be sure it doesn’t contain any VOCs, which have some pretty nasty possible long-term effects.
  • We love Etsy for its variety of organic and non-toxic baby items. You can get one-of-a-kind and customizable nursery decor that’s often a fair price for the amazing handcrafted quality.
  • Here is an affordable and beautiful DIY for baby’s room, especially in the summer months: a blooming monogram. The blog Urbanic Paper shows us how to make this using basic crafting supplies you can find at your local craft store such as paper mache letters, a glue gun, floral foam and silk flowers.

eco-friendly nursery 4

  • Make your own nursery chandelier using a lamp shade and some felt. Follow our amazing (yet simple) DIY instructions here.

eco-friendly nursery 5

  • If you’re fairly handy, you can make your own toy box from a wooden crate, plywood, casters and a few other supplies. Just follow this DIY from the blog ThisLittleStreet.com. You can also purchase some adorable eco-friendly toy boxes online (like the one above!).

 

Tell us about the eco-friendly nursery items you like!

What Is Polyvinyl Alcohol?

polyvinyl-alcohol

This is part of our ongoing series helping consumers better understand chemicals, chemistry, and product formulations. We translate the science, bust the myths, and give you an honest assessment, so you can make informed choices for your family!

Ingredient: Polyvinyl Alcohol (also known as PVA, PVOH, or PVAI)

What it is: Polyvinyl alcohol is a synthetic polymer, which is a substance made up of many, many molecules all strung together. It starts its life as ethylene, a natural gaseous hormone given off by plants that causes the fruit to ripen. In this case, the ethylene is synthetically produced (but nature identical), then turned into vinyl acetate through a chemical reaction with oxygen and acetic acid (in diluted form known as vinegar), then polymerized (bonded to form repeating molecules), and then dissolved in alcohol to become a water-soluble polymer.

What it does: PVA has oodles of uses from strengthening textile yarns and making paper more grease and oil resistant to creating children’s play slime and contact lens lubricant (yes, it’s safe enough to go in your eyes!). We use it to create the water-soluble, single-size pod packages that hold our dishwasher, oxy-boost, and laundry formulas.

Why we use it: People love cleaning pods—what’s not to love?! These pods (aka “packs”) streamline cleaning, which is always a good thing! But, in this case, all it takes to make doing laundry and dishes a little easier is a convenient pack of pre-measured detergent. We chose to encase our detergent in PVA because it’s strong, colorless, odorless, biodegradable, and non-toxic!

Why we’re featuring it today: PVA is sometimes confused with polyvinyl acetate (aka PVA or PVAc—a wood glue), an easy enough mistake to make given they sometimes go by the same acronym. PVA is also sometimes thought to be related to polyvinyl chloride (aka PVC – the poison plastic). We wanted to make it clear that even though they all contain the word “polyvinyl” and are all types of polymers, they are all indeed very different substances.

  • Polyvinyl alcohol = non-toxic, biodegradable polymer
  • Polyvinyl acetate = rubbery polymer commonly used as glue
  • Polyvinyl chloride = toxic plastic polymer that often contains phthalates and heavy metals

 

Still have any lingering questions about polyvinyl alcohol? Let us know in the comments and we’ll do our best to respond!

 

 

Newborn Care: Tips & Tricks from Nurses

Sleeping baby yawning

One of my biggest life-altering events was the birth of my two boys. If you feel anxiety about being a new parent, you’re not alone. Many new parents feel overwhelmed when it’s time to bring their new babies home from the hospital. As a nurse in the Children’s Hospital Los Angeles Newborn and Infant Critical Care Unit (NICCU), I am positioned to help give you the confidence in caring for your newborn. Continue reading for helpful newborn care tips!

 

Getting Started Breastfeeding

Breastfeeding is a team effort between you and your baby. One of the keys to successful breastfeeding is simply sitting up while you breastfeed—sit up in bed, in a comfortable armchair or in a rocking chair. Use pillows behind your back, under your elbow and on your lap to support the baby. Use a footstool to bring your knees up or use pillows under your knees if you are sitting up in bed. You should be relaxed with none of your muscles straining. Your baby should be lying on his side with his whole body facing you and his knees pulled in close to your body. There are a number of breastfeeding pillows to help, but you don’t necessarily need one of those to succeed.

Overcoming a Poor Latch During Breastfeeding

Getting your baby to latch onto your nipple properly helps promote successful breastfeeding. A poor latch (nipple is too shallow in your baby’s mouth) at the breast will cause discomfort and can make your nipples sore or cause them to crack and bleed. Here are some suggestions to help overcome poor latching:

  • Get as much help as you can when you are in the hospital after giving birth. Ask for a nurse or lactation consultant.
  • Before each feeding, make sure you are comfortable—empty your bladder, get some water for sipping, and take your time getting into position.
  • Your baby should be awake and ready to nurse. It helps to unswaddling them and change their diaper.
  • Your baby’s mouth needs to be open wide for a proper latch. You can tickle their upper lip with your nipple to get her mouth to open. Once her mouth is open, bring her into your breast.

Mary, my fellow RN Remedies blogger, talks about how to properly handle, store, and thaw your breast milk.

 

Curing a Stuffy Nose

Babies are born nose breathers, probably because that how they breathe during breastfeeding—mouth breathing begins later. If your newborn has a stuffy nose, not only does it interfere with breastfeeding but it can cause other respiratory issues. If your baby shows signs of a stuffy nose (e.g. nasal secretion around their nostrils, sneezing) here are some ways to help clear their nasal passage to promote better breathing. One of the most effective ways to remove blockage in their nose is to use a bulb syringe:

  1. Press on the bulb syringe to remove air. Do not release the bulb yet.
  2. Place the tip of the bulb syringe into your baby’s nostril.
  3. Gently release the bulb pressure and allow it to suck up the mucus from your baby’s nose.
  4. Clean the bulb syringe with hot water and soap. (Make sure the syringe is empty of water for the next time you use it, and that you are not shooting water into your baby’s nose.)

 

Clipping Nails

Your newborn’s nails grow quickly and will require a trim at least once per week. If you forget, you’ll be reminded by a small scratch on your arm or hand, or they may accidentally scratch themselves.

  • Trim your baby’s nails when they are sleeping.
  • Before you use nail clipper, try filing your baby’s nails.
  • If filing does not work, press down on your baby’s fingertip so you can get the clippers around both sides of the nail.
  • If there are sharp edges after clipping, use a nail file to soften and trim them down.

 

Safe Sleep for Your Newborn

Since 1992, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that infants sleep on their backs to reduce the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). SIDS is the sudden and unexplained death of a baby under 1 year of age. Even though there is no way to know which babies might die of SIDS, there are some things that you can do to make your baby safer:

  • Always place your baby on their back to sleep, even for naps.
  • Place your baby on a firm mattress.
  • Remove soft, fluffy and loose bedding, including blankets, crib bumpers, and stuffed toys from your baby’s sleep area.
  • Do not use a sleep positioner to hold your baby on their back or side.
  • Use a sleep sack rather than blankets while your baby is sleeping.
  • Your baby’s room should be at a temperature that is comfortable for an adult. Too many layers of clothing or blankets can overheat your baby.

It helps to educate anyone who cares for your baby about safe sleep for your baby. This RN Remedies blog post can help.

 

By Robert Giesler, BSN, RN, CPST, Pediatric Nurse, Newborn and Infant Critical Care Unit (NICCU) at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles

To read more of Robert’s pediatric health care tips, visit WeTreatKidsBetter.org!