Cheap and Free Yoga in Dallas Summer 2015

I’m heading out to my yoga teacher training in just a few days! Meanwhile, I am getting bombarded by emails, Facebook messages, texts and verbal inquiries from friends looking for somewhere to do yoga this summer. I can recommend several studios or gyms, but it sounds like no one is really willing to pay for a studio membership. If you can’t commit to a studio for whatever reason, there are actually quite a few local places you can go for cheap and free yoga in Dallas this summer. This list will change again in the fall, as some of these are temporary.
NOTE: All classes listed are non-meditative or religion-neutral or Holy Yoga when specified.

Cheap and free yoga in Dallas Summer 2015 | Living Consciously Blog

The Yoga Factory (Dallas location) – has $5 Featured Teacher classes throughout the week. You can find their schedule on the MindBody app for your smartphone or on their web site.

Lululemon on Legacy in Plano – not technically Dallas, but the only location that currently offers free yoga classes on Sundays at 10am. They feature a studio each month – June was the studio I attend, The Yoga Factory. In July, it will be another studio.

Whole Foods Park Lane – will host free yoga in their upstairs meeting room from 6:30pm – 8pm on Wednesdays. My friend Erin from Namah Shivaya will be teaching, tell her “hi” from me!

Holy Yoga at Park Cities Baptist Church – donation-based class by Master Level instructor Danette on Tuesdays 9:20am – 10:20am and Thursdays 12:00 noon – 1:00pm, West Bldg., Room #104

Holy Yoga at Dallas Ballet CenterMondays and Wednesdays 9:30am – 10:30am for $10 per class or buy a pack of 10 classes for $80. You must register online here (or from the main DBC page, click the blue “register here” button at the bottom of the far left column). The class is lead by Master Level instructor Teresa.

The Mat studio Karma Happy Hour – July 17 only, at 6:30pm there will be an Open Flow class followed by a free wine Happy Hour at 7:30pm. The event is free but you must register ahead of time online.

Holy Yoga in Downtown Frisco – beginning July 16, my friend Maureen will be teaching a flow class (all levels) for $10 per class if you purchase at 10 class card at The Sacred Space in downtown Frisco Thursdays at 5:30pm and Fridays at 9:30am. This studio also offers restorative classes with Christian meditation for various costs.

Holy Yoga in the Park, Richardson – taught by me! I will be teaching a 45 minute Flow class at 6:00am every Monday, July 13 – August 3. Free – donations accepted but not required. All levels welcome!

The list is short for now, but I’ll add to it as we go along this summer. If you are an instructor offering free or low-cost yoga classes in the Richardson or North Dallas area, please let me know and I will add your class to the list!

#NoFoodWasted: Easy Ways to Reduce Food Waste

A week from today is Earth Day – April 22 this year. Instead of freaking out and trying to learn how to do some new crunchy thing like making my own solar panels out of tinfoil, what I’m doing is sharing with you some super easy ways that you can reduce waste. Specifically, I’ll show you the simple and stress free ways I reduce my food waste. Could I do better? Definitely. But this is where I’m at now, and hopefully there might be a few ideas worth gleaning.

Easy Ways to Reduce Food Waste | Living Consciously Blog

Whole Chicken = Bone broth

Since we’ve started eating meat again, I’ve found that it is super simple to cook a whole chicken in the crockpot. Crockpot chicken can be done many ways but always results in me not having to do much at dinner time. If you want to make bone broth from your chicken, though, you want to avoid things like stew or extreme spices that would change the taste of the broth too much.

There are hundreds of blog posts on the benefits of bone broth, go read a few. It is a magical liquid full of nutrition that will give you the strength to leap tall buildings in a single bound and all of that.

Here is how to make use of the leftover chicken: if you have preschoolers or small children like I do, it takes them hours and hours to eat the single piece of food you served them, even when they like it. So after I have eaten my own chicken, I wash my hands, grab a few glass storage containers (affiliate link), and start pulling the meat off the bones while they sit there not-eating. I save the bones and most of the fat in a separate container from the meat. I typically refrigerate everything for a few days until I get around to setting up the bone broth. All it takes a is a quick soaking of the bones and fat in apple cider vinegar and filtered water in a crock pot early in the day or late at night, then fill the crock pot up the rest of the way with filtered water and your choice of spices and herbs. Keep it simple. You can use this recipe for bone broth if you need one. I typically let the broth cook on low for 15-18 hours.

Celery hearts, fresh herbs + freezer = bone broth

If you tend to let your celery hearts and fresh herbs go forgotten in the fridge a bit too long so that they’re still edible (not slimy) but just no longer at the peak of freshness, pop them into the freezer before they go bad. I do this a lot for parsley, of which I never seem to use the entire bunch. Take them out and put them into the crockpot to use in your bone broth. You can also use them in soups and stews if you chop before freezing

Compost and Chickens

I keep two containers on my countertop: one for compost and one for the chickens. My chickens are very spoiled and only like certain scraps. They do not like garlic or onions, despite how cool garlic would make their eggs taste. They do not like kiwi. They have varying opinions about mangoes. And potatoes, avocado, and a few other veggies are toxic to them. So for the things they can’t or won’t eat, I have a terribly unprofessional compost heap (read more about how to compost here). Instead of showing you a picture of my probably-not-genuine compost heap which tends to actually grow it’s own garden, I will show you my countertop containers.

Compost Chickens and Food Waste | Living Consciously Blog

As you can see, they do not have to be fancy. This is also a great reuse of plastic tupperware type containers that I have been given by other people which I will not use with my own food due to plastic leaching issues. And here are my chickens enjoying some of the scraps that they deem acceptable.

Feeding leftover veggies to the backyard chickens | Living Consciously Blog

Obviously, not everyone has backyard chickens, so for those of you who don’t…

Fruits & Veggies = smoothies

When your fruit gets a little too squishy for your enjoyment (bananas, mangoes, strawberries), or your leaves get a little wilted (kale, spinach, swiss chard) but you don’t have chickens or other pets that eat produce, pop that not-so-fresh stuff into the freezer. Then the next time you want to make a smoothie, use the frozen fruit or veggies! Don’t forget to reduce (or completely eliminate) the ice that you use since you are using frozen items. You might also have to increase the liquid a little bit. Here are my simple green smoothie guidelines.

Meat = curry

As I am relatively new to cooking meat, meat waste is new to me. No one in my household except me will eat leftovers. And since I still do not prefer to eat meat more than once every few days, I’m not a huge fan of eating all the leftover meat from weekly dinners by myself. I have figured out a few things that I can do with our most common leftovers.

Pork loin, Ham – curry! Right now I use a curry mix whose ingredients are all written in some form of kanji so it might be fairly toxic, but my family loves it! I just set the rice machine to have rice ready and then curry whatever leftover meat I have.

Making curry out of leftover ham, reduce food waste | Living Consciously Blog

Chicken – Chicken soups. Chicken tacos. Chicken stir fry. I also freeze uneaten chicken breast or shredded chicken to serve with rice to my kids on an evening when my husband and I might be going out, healthier than chicken nuggets!

Fish – Fish smells so bad when reheated! It gets so gross in the fridge. Does anybody have any good ideas for leftover fish? Please email me or send me a tweet!

Meal Planning

Overall, the best way that I’ve found to avoid waste is to plan meals to use leftovers. I am not good at this, and I am not a smart meal planner. For that reason, I pay someone else to do the meal planning. Currently, I am using Real Plans meal planning system (affiliate link) and I love it. It provides a shopping list that I can alter based on what parts of the plan for that week I want to use and what parts I do not, and all the recipes can be adjusted to fit larger or smaller groups. You can find my review of the Real Plans system here. (NOTE: I am an affiliate for Real Plans so I get a percentage of their fee if you sign up for their system). Other meal planning systems that I have used in the past include The Fresh 20 and eMeals.

Those are all my ideas for now, for more ideas on how to reduce food waste, follow the hashtag #NoFoodWasted on Instagram and Twitter. I’ll be posting more from my Instagram on Earth Day with that hashtag as well! 

Happy Earth Day!

Saving money on organic non-GMO groceries

After a full year of saying we’re going to sit down and go over our budget, my husband and I finally did it. We used to be such superstars about our budget when we were first married, but it’s yet another area that has slipped since we had children. We have so very little time without the kids that it seems like a waste to spend it on budgeting (see what I did there?). Still, we did it, and we survived. The aftermath has left me with the task of saving money on organic non-GMO groceries.

We’ve been eating organic produce when it comes to The Dirty Dozen for many years; that has not changed and will not change. But ever since I attended Shiftcon in October, I’ve been making a more concentrated effort to avoid genetically modified organisms in our food. I have learned so much about what’s happening to our bodies, our health, and our children as a result of GMO’s in the past few years that it’s difficult for me to “unknow” all of these things and go back to allowing these untested organisms back into our food supply. I feel terrible about choosing cheap over safe now. I hate that it has to be a choice, but I know that if I keep “voting with my dollars”, eventually the companies will start listening.

I reached out to some wonderful clean eating anti-GMO bloggers that I know asking for their best tips on saving money while eating clean. I have compiled the best advice I received and hope to implement. Some of these things I already have in place and have already tested out for you! PLEASE NOTE: There are affiliate links in this list, meaning I am an affiliate of some of the online stores, so if you order from them I will get a few cents. Thank you!

Saving Money on Organic NonGMO Groceries | Living Consciously Blog

Saving money on organic non-GMO groceries

1. Buy supplements, specialty (gluten-free, vegan, Paleo, non-GMO) snacks, and pantry staples from online retailers.

A list of retailers that may be cheaper in some cases than Whole Foods, Sprouts, or even Natural Grocer include:

Vitacost (affiliate link)
Thrive Market (affiliate link)
Abe’s Market (affiliate link)
iHerb (recommended by Lindsay Dahl)

I have found that crackers, flours, bulk herbs and grains, bath and body products, dental products, and organic feminine hygiene products are cheaper on these sites than at physical stores. Tip: order with a friend so that your order is large enough to qualify for free shipping (usually $50).

2. Garden: grow your own organic produce and herbs

This would work better if I did not constantly kill everything that I attempt to grow, but I just keep trying! The most valuable thing for me to grow would be herbs, again if I did not constantly kill them. I spend $3-$4 per week on fresh cilantro, parsley or sage. If I could somehow stop killing the herbs in my garden, that would save me $156 per year, minimum. Related: has anyone ever tried the Aerogarden (affiliate link) for this? I have been thinking of ordering one for years to try to stop the constant herb death over here.

3. Meal Planning

I am literally unable to do this inside my own brain, so I pay someone to do it for me. I love buying meal planning and having someone else tell me how to cook and what to cook. Meal planning makes certain that you don’t buy what you won’t eat in a given week. No waste! Clean eating plans that I love:

Real Plans (affiliate link)
The Fresh 20
eMeals (choose the Clean Eating, Vegetarian or Paleo plan)

4. Use the freezer

Maybe 2015 will be the year we get an electrician out to install outlets in the garage for a deep freeze. If you have freezer space, you can buy in bulk and freeze. Things to freeze: organic fruits, organic vegetables (from your garden!), grass fed meat, large batches of soup, large batches of baked goods like muffins, pancakes, and waffles, leftover smoothies and bulk cooked beans (cheaper & safer than buying canned). You can also buy frozen organic produce more cheaply than fresh.

5. Shop smarter

I’ve saved a lot over the years by knowing where each item is the cheapest. For example, conventional marshmallows have high fructose corn syrup AND blue dye (linked to attention issues and hyperactivity in children, actually required to carry a warning label in the UK, largely phased out over there). So I buy organic marshmallows, but there’s a difference in cost depending on where you buy…

Whole Foods: $4.69 per package
Natural Grocer: $4.29 per package
Thrive Market: under $4 per package

Per my blogger friends across the nation, try to find these local chains near you:

Grocery Outlet
Costco (carries a TON of organic and GMO-free items)
Natural Grocer (by Vitamin Cottage, under that name in some areas)

For more ways to shop smarter, check on these posts Organic on the Cheap, Real Food Money Saving Tips, Using Amazon Subscribe & Save makes Real Food Affordable and Real Food Grocery Budget.

~~~

I hope some of these tips help all of us! Here’s to a thrifty 2015, and please feel free to post YOUR money saving tips for organic, non-GMO groceries in the comments!

Dallas City Bag Ban: How to remember reusable bags at the store

How to Remember Reusable Bags at the grocery store | Living Consciously Blog

Since I’ve been crunchy for longer than it was officially cool to be crunchy, I was super excited about the Dallas city bag ban, because it means less waste and less danger to the wildlife. We lived next to White Rock Lake in Dallas for many years, and it always made me sad to see the hundreds of thin white bags lining the shore and being eaten by wildlife who later died. Bag litter is so ubiquitous that They Might Be Giants even wrote a whimsical song about a plastic bag floating along a walkway and attaching itself to the legs of passerby.

Anyway, things haven’t been so celebratory for a lot of folks in the area. The first time I visited Target after the bag ban took effect, the cashier was so defensive about it that she was actually rude when she gave me my free reusable bag (TIP: Target was giving out free reusable bags, at least the first few days!). It was like she fully expected me to throw a fit. I think she might have gotten that response a few times already, which totally explains her surliness.

I know that I spent a few years at first trying to remember to bring my own bags, and there’s nothing more annoying than PAYING for something that you know you already own, but forgot to bring. I made the following video to show you my best tips on how to remember reusable bags at the grocery store. (If you can’t see the embedded video, click here)

To recap what’s in the video:

The door of your car.

Behind the seat of your car.

Tiny, tiny bags. – here’s an affiliate link to the bags I mentioned that fold up into themselves.

Bags that fit in other bags. – another affiliate link to the 5-pack of bags I mentioned.

You don’t use as many. – you can pack a reusable bag completely full and it won’t break.

TAKE IT TO THE NEXT LEVEL: produce bags. – affiliate link to mesh produce bags. Or reuse the produce bags that you already have.

I’ll try to have a video next week reviewing the different types of reusable bags. Let me know if you have questions in the comments!

Living Consciously Holiday Gift Guide 2014

I’ve never done a Holiday Gift Guide before, but this year I really learned about some great brands and products that I think will truly help you give (or receive) this season in a way that will help you live more consciously in 2015, so I had to share! Please note that I do have an affiliate relationship with some of these brands, or that I might have received free products the first time I tried them, so that I would know whether I wanted to recommend them to you. I have noted which and what applies with an asterisk or affiliate relationship marked in parentheses.

My hope is that you will be able to find some amazing non-toxic gifts for anyone on your list, while giving back (see Soapbox Soaps) and supporting small businesses.

Happy Holidays!

GiftGuideKids2014v2For the Kids

Bendi Baby Yoga Mat (affiliate link) – A yoga mat specifically made to be as tall as your child and light enough to carry! Comes in two sizes: Baby and Tot. Make sure to follow them on Instagram, they have some adorable pictures!

Kids Yoga Stories – I used these books when I taught Kids Yoga and the kids LOVED them. Now there is also a set of flashcards with children doing poses to make learning the yoga poses easy for kids. I’d also recommend signing up for the weekly newsletter on this site, which comes with really neat pose sequences that you can do with your child at home.

Mama May I Shop* – An adorable boutique of handmade, sustainable toys for all ages. My kids (ages 3 and 5) absolutely LOVE telling stories to Daddy and I at night and listening to us make up stories for them with Story Starters. These handmade wooden dice have pictures printed on them in eco-friendly ink. You roll them and make up stories! They come in a metal tin with a little notebook for recording your best stories. Other toys we were interested in included play silks, Fairy Friends, and the assortment of crayon wallets!

Musical Instruments – More of a general suggestion, I wanted to include this because we recently purchased both a child’s guitar (affiliate link) and a full junior drum set (affiliate link) for our son, even though I honestly thought we were insane to do it (especially when it came to the drum set). But it hasn’t been a terrible idea, actually. I have noticed he has much better rhythm and it gives him a constructive way to use his energy. We started at the age of about 2 with this simple Melissa & Doug music set (affiliate link).

 GiftGuideAnyone2014v2Eco-friendly non-toxic gifts for anyone

Vitamix blender (affiliate link) – Although this is more of a dream item for most people, it’s absolutely worth the price tag, in my opinion! I got mine for Mother’s Day this year (2014) and still use it every day, sometimes multiple times a day. Make your own nut milk, nut butters, soups, hummus, smoothies, and even juice with your Vitamix to avoid additives and preservatives in processed foods. For ideas, check out my Vitamix recipe Pinterest board.

Board & Batten Farm to Skin* – A new concept in luxury skin and body care, this company has a “Farm to Skin” philosophy — their products are created from raw materials taken from their own farm in Florida. On their site you can purchase soy candles, charcoal soap, body creme, and a full skin care line, all packaged beautifully and ready to gift. I have tried the “Begin Again” facial buff made of organic quinoa and fruit enzymes and loved how simple yet effective it was! If you just can’t decide on a gift, try a pre-assembled gift set bundle.

Soapbox Soap Holiday Bundle* – One of my favorite discoveries at ShiftCon this year, Soapbox Soaps are in the business of giving back to those in need year-round. Every time you purchase a soap, body wash, or body lotion from Soapbox Soaps, they will donate an equivalent value to someone in need. For example, buy their famous charcoal soap and they’ll give a bar of soap to someone who doesn’t have access to soap. Buy a body wash and they donate an entire month’s worth of water to areas with no access to clean water. For a bottle of lotion, one year of vitamins to undernourished populations. My favorite item for gifting is the Holiday Gift Bundle, the purchase of which provides a bar of soap, a month of water AND a year of vitamins to someone in need!

Dolly Moo products – I won a package of Dolly Moo products in a yoga challenge this year and the scrubs quickly became my favorite. I love that the body products are made of ingredients I recognize and that all the scents come from essential oils. She also makes dried sage smudge sticks for cleansing the home. The company has a lovely Instagram page and is very committed to the yoga community in particular. Bonus: the scrubs also stand in for shaving cream on legs, leaving your legs luxuriously moisturized! Two products for the price of one!

Living Consciously Blog's Non-Toxic Gift Guide Stockings Stuffers 2014 Non-toxic Stocking stuffers/Secret Santa suggestions

Nutiva O’Coconut coconut nuggets – I loved finding these low-sugar (3g) GMO-free Fair Trade treats in my ShiftCon swag bag so much that I ordered more of my own from Vitacost.com. Flavors are Original and Hemp & Chia. The ingredients are healthy but the taste is like candy! They can be difficult to find locally, but if you have a Natural Grocer or Whole Foods near you, try the treat section. Or just buy through Vitacost (affiliate link).

Dang coconut chips Dark Chocolate – Coconut chips dipped in dark chocolate! Yum! Fair Trade, GMO free, and low in sugar. Very easy to find at any local health food store, but also available on Vitacost (affiliate link).

Miessence Rose Monsoon Hydrating Mist – The brand is committed to 100% organic skin care ingredients, and it’s a great place to find any body products or even probiotics, but their moisturizing rose water spray is something that everyone can use! Just this week I spent too much time in front of the fireplace and felt smokey — I sprayed a fine mist of the rose water all over my hair and face and the smokiness was gone! An instant mood brightener during hectic holidays, you might actually want to grab some for yourself as well as your friend. There is a discount with a purchase over $150. Be sure to click on her “Special Offers” for botanical perfumes currently more than half off!

Earth Mama Angel Baby Lotions – Not just for new moms and babies anymore! Here’s my last-minute pampering suggestion: Earth Mama has come out with 2 brand new lotion scents that make great teacher gifts, and you can run to your local Sprouts or Target as late as 10pm the night before and grab a bottle for $10! Put it in a cute bag with a note about how you trust your little one with such a great teacher every day and you’re done! They have all kinds of great stocking stuffers, from relaxing herbal teas to non-toxic lip balms (which are our family’s personal favorite chapstick option!) If you do want to buy online, you can always buy from Amazon (affiliate link) or directly from their web site.

 

* All items marked with an asterisk were given to me to sample by the company at some point in 2014. I liked them so much that I proceeded to purchase them with my own money and/or use them regularly. I did NOT get paid to mention any of them in this gift guide.

Real Plans real food meal planning system: gluten-free dairy-free

Real Plans meal planning system | Living Consciously

NOTE: I received a 2 week preview of the Real Plans meal planning system so that I could try it out and let you know what I think. I was not compensated monetarily for the opportunity or asked to share my experience, I am doing so of my own accord and all opinions are my own. However, links within the post and images may be affiliate links (and are labeled as such), which means that if you purchase the plan, I will get a percentage of the sale to support my blogging efforts. Thank you in advance!

RealPlans.com meal planning system: Paleo, Vegetarian, and Traditional | Living Consciously

I finally made a pot roast!

This is a big deal for someone who spent 13 years of my adult life a vegetarian and has just now learned to cook meat. My husband remembers pot roast fondly from childhood and has wistfully mentioned it several times in our marriage. I am sad to say that there have been many failed pot roasts in my past.

For the past 2 weeks, I’ve been on a Paleo-ish liver detox! The plan includes eating extremely cleanly and avoiding the following:

  • all grains (including rice, corn, quinoa, oats)
  • dairy
  • added sugar (such as refined sugar, coconut sugar, honey, molasses – I still have fruit that contains natural sugars, such as dates)

Unlike my 30 day macrobiotic cleanse, I have been able to eat meat, fish, and all fruits and vegetables. I was also instructed to add sugar-free hemp protein (affiliate link) and raw greens powder (affiliate link) into smoothies and shakes several times a day to keep me full and help my body flush out.

Since I have been using a Classic version of another meal planning system for the past 2 years, I was a little overwhelmed attempting to plan Paleo-ish meals for myself and my family. It was just in time that Emily and Antony offered to let me try their new Real Plans real food meal planning system (affiliate link). I chose the Paleo plan (affiliate link), which is gluten-free and dairy-free. To my husband’s delight, this week contained pot roast!

Emily of Holistic Squid (a holistic blog) and her husband Antony designed this system and come up with the recipes. Real food means that everything is made from scratch, no prepackaged or processed foods. But, it’s actually not difficult at all!

I was surprised at how few ingredients the recipe required. It seems like the other recipes I’d tried were so much more complicated! I bought the chuck roast at Whole Foods, it was actually on sale for 50% off and was organic grass-fed!

A cool feature of the planning system – you can adjust the recipe for different serving sizes:

Real Plans meal planning system allows you to adjust the recipe serving size | Living Consciously

I was also very happy with how the shopping list and recipes were optimized for mobile. Does anyone else cook recipes straight from their iPhone? No? Well, I do! So it was nice to have the recipe formatted without clutter for easy countertop reference.

Overall, this is a super simple meal planning system that adds a fresh dose of flexibility (meal size, weekly menu). I would highly recommend it. In addition to the Paleo version, they also have a Vegetarian Plan and a Traditional Plan. If you do join, tell Emily and Antony that I sent you! Here’s the link again: RealPlans.com (affiliate link).

There is no “microwave safe” or “dishwasher safe” plastic

Heating Plastic: there is no "microwave safe" or "dishwasher safe" plastic! Why and how to avoid heating food in plastic | Conscientious Confusion

Our trusty old dishwasher finally died lately, and I am super excited to have a shiny new one. Those 2-3 weeks handwashing dishes were no fun! But, regardless of whether we have a working dishwasher, there are always dishes in my sink. Why? Because I always hand wash plastics.

Why handwash? First of all, plastics are made out of chemicals. Yep, there is no natural substance out there which can be harvested to produce plastic in it’s final form. It’s all created in a lab. Most plastic is made flexible by PVC, a chemical that is well known to be toxic. Even plastics that are made without PVC are made of other chemicals. You can pick plastics that are “safe-r” to hold food by using this handy list, but there are no completely non-toxic plastics.

Here’s the thing: those chemicals are made active again when the plastic is heated. By default, any plastic that is heated will be releasing some of it’s chemical components. That is why plastic dishware degrades, gets spots, and warps over time. The chemical components of the plastic are slowly breaking down (read more here and here and a more technical study here. Relevance to cancer from chemicals in plastic.). When it comes to dishware, the heat allows those chemicals to mix with our food. Do we really want to be eating a side of chemicals with our meal? Remember that the FDA does not approve chemicals used in houseware (they only oversee Food and Drugs) — there is no regulation of the materials being used in your plates/bowls/sippys/storage containers.

You’ve seen the plastics labeled “microwave safe” and “dishwasher safe”, right? What does that even mean? The definition of “microwave safe” and “dishwasher safe”, as far as I can tell from online research, comes from appliance manufacturers. Both terms mean that your dishes won’t be visibly damaged, melted or broken in the appliance, not that the dishware won’t leach chemicals into your food. In other words, there is no “microwave safe” or “dishwasher safe” plastic.

Ideally, it would be fabulous to own no plastic food containers or items at all, but I have two preschool children. I do still use a microwave. With children this young, I still do not have the bandwidth in my food prep time to forego the microwave altogether for quick meals like leftovers and lunches, so stainless steel isn’t always practical. When using the microwave to reheat even something small, transfer the food to a glass container.

Tip #1: I bought small glass bowls from the dollar store specifically for reheating. I have about 4 of them so that there is always one clean. I just pop whatever I want to reheat into these open bowls and toss them in the microwave. The bonus is that I can also safely put them into the dishwasher.

Tip #2: To make storing and reheating from the refrigerator easier, I have replaced all of my formerly plastic storageware with glass food storage (affiliate link). These sets are easy to find at Target, Walmart, Amazon, and even Costco. I replaced it slowly, over time, when I could find sales and coupons. It can be pricey to do it all at one time, although Costco will frequently have good deals on glass storageware.

We have been working on teaching the kids to use glass responsibly. I still don’t allow them to have glass containers unsupervised, but they are getting much more mindful. Soon I hope to transition completely away from plastic cups and bowls for them and to ceramic and glass, which is what we use for the adults in the family.

For more information on the toxicity and environmental impact of plastic, I highly recommend my friend Beth Terry’s book “Plastic-Free: How I Kicked My Plastic Habit and How You Can Too” (affiliate link).

How do you avoid plastic in your home? Do you have any favorite products that you like?

Healthy morning oatmeal: chia seeds, fruit & nuts

The other day, I posted this (not so great) picture on my Instagram and Facebook page and had several requests for the recipe for my favorite healthy morning oatmeal.

I actually do eat this oatmeal nearly every day. Breakfast is definitely my favorite meal! I wake up starving every day. Before I had children, I would be downright mean before breakfast. Since having the children, I am a good 30-45 minutes into my “workday” by the time we get downstairs for breakfast, so I don’t really have the option of being grumpy anymore, but I am still starving!

I have a combination of other breakfasts that I rotate through, but oddly this or my gluten free oatmeal alternative are really the only options that keep me from being hungry two hours later! Something about oats keeps my metabolism satisfied for longer.

My Healthy  Morning Oatmeal Recipe | Conscientious Confusion

Healthy Morning Oatmeal

1/2 cup quick-cooking oats

1/2 cup milk (coconut or cow)

1/2 cup water

1 tsp chia seeds

Possible add-ins: organic raisins, raw walnuts, dried cranberries, cinnamon, bananas, organic peaches, organic apples, organic berries, brown sugar

Put ingredients MINUS add-ins into the microwave for 1 min. If I add crunchy fruits like apples, I put them in before cooking.

After the first minute, remove from microwave and stir, then 40 seconds more.

If I was a healthier/better person (or did not have 2 children for whom I am a short-order cook), I would cook this in a pot over the stove instead of a microwave. You can do that if you have time!

Most of the time I just add raisins & raw walnuts after cooking. Occasionally a little brown sugar!

 

Be sure to also visit my gluten free oatmeal alternative recipe if oats are an issue for your body.

Juicing with a Vitamix & a nut milk bag

NOTE: I received the La Parfait “Super” 2 Liter glass jar from the Glass is Life campaign. Opinions about glass jars and juicing and whatnot are my own. Obviously.

Juicing with a Vitamix | Conscientious Confusion

Do you ever buy pure fruit or vegetable juices? Juicing is great for me, personally, because it helps me get more vegetable vitamins than I get from diet alone, while reducing the bulky fiber that can be difficult for my body to process with my history of digestive issues. I don’t own a juicer, but I DO own a Vitamix. One of the reasons that I purchased the Vitamix is because it is powerful enough to liquify things completely. Juicing with a Vitamix is easy; you just need the nut milk bag to remove the pulp.

Of course, you can leave the pulp in and have great whole food juices (called “blending”, not actually “juicing”), but your body will need to process the fiber, as it would with a smoothie. My friend ecokaren just posted a great breakout of the differences between juices versus blending, I highly recommend reading it to find out which direction you’d like to go. I actually do both juices and blending at different times. Also, more information on the right way to juice.

But if you want to know how to juice with a Vitamix, here is how I do it.

First, you need cheesecloth or a nut milk bag (affiliate link). I used cheesecloth at first, but now I have graduated to the nut milk bag, because it has a string around the top that cinches it onto my jar, allowing the juice to drip through slowly over a period of time, rather than having to manually press the juice out in batches as I did with the cheesecloth.

You also need a good, tall jar. I like the La Parfait “Super” 2 Liter Jar (affiliate link), which I got from Glass Is Life. I like that it has a sealing lid that I can clamp down over the top of the nut milk bag, like this:

Dripping Juice Jar

It’s pretty easy — you can use any juicing recipe on Pinterest (follow my Vitamix board for ones I’ve tried or would like to try).

Step 1

Put the ingredients into your Vitamix. If it’s a recipe made for a juicer, you might need to add a cup of water or ice depending on how many juicy fruits or veggies are in your juice, so that they can circulate freely in the Vitamix.

Step 2

Blend until the liquid splashes around in the Vitamix.

Step 3

Secure the nut milk bag over your tall jar. If you forget to make it secure, it will fall right through and the pulp will get everywhere! I speak from experience.

Step 4

Pour the blended mixture into the nut milk bag, a little at a time. I like to use a spatula to scrap the sides of the nut milk bag.

Spatula with the Nut Milk Bag

Sometimes I help it out a little by squeezing…

Squeezing Juice

Step 5

Remove the pulp! It will look like this:

Juice Pulp

I actually feed our to our chickens, but you can compost it or even try this Minestrone Soup Recipe by Mindful Momma.

Last, enjoy your juice!

It might seem like a few extra steps, but I’ve found it only takes about 15 minutes. To me, it’s worth saving the money and the space in my kitchen that a juicer would take up.

Tips for Summer Adventures: Travel or Staycations

This month’s blog sponsor is Allstate 21st Century Prosperity agent Shawn Spalding. Since I know that Allstate has dozens of years experience in auto claims, maintenance, roadside assistance, and that Shawn is probably an expert on saving money (since he’s a financial planner!), I asked him to share some of his best tips for summer adventures, whether you are on the road or not. It might seem a little early, but I asked him this because our family has already planned several road trips for our summer this year! How about you?

Summer Adventure Tips: Travel or Staycations | Conscientious Confusion

Road Trips

  1. Get your car checked!
    A tune up is a good idea. Low tire pressure or dirty air filters can reduce a car’s gas mileage
  2. Save on Gas!
    Use an online calculator, like GasBuddy.com’s Trip Cost Calculator, to help you estimate how much you’ll spend on gas: use your route and your car model’s gas mileage.
    Then use Allstate’s Fuel Finder – fast, easy-to-use gas price locator can help you find low prices at nearby pumps. All the preparations add up to money that stays in your pocket.
    Go easy on the accelerator when the light turns green!
    Keep to the speed limit. Promotes safer driving and more fuel efficiency, but it also helps prevent you from getting a speeding ticket, which can put a dent in any vacation budget.
  3. Pack your roadside emergency kit
    Items to include: snacks and bottled water, plastic trash bags for wind protection and car sickness, first aid kit, cellphone and charger, flashlight and batteries, blankets, waterproof matches and/or a lighter, properly inflated spare tire, jack and lug wrench, jumper cables, signal flares, pocket knife, atlas and state/local road maps, extra quart of high-quality motor oil, hand cleaner, and paper towels.

Can’t head out of town? Plan a Staycation!

Some of the benefits? Saves time (no traffic/no security check-in lines) & saves money (no expensive plane tickets/no checked bag fees).

Get the whole family involved. Encourage everyone to write down an activity on a slip of paper and choose out of a hat.

Activities that are eco-friendly and local

  • Camp out in your backyard
  • Take a walking tour or hike through a local park (I recommend Trinity Audubon Center!)
  • Visit a museum or spot of cultural interest
  • Use public transportation to see the attractions (saves gas and is good for the environment!)
  • Plant a garden
  • Build a composting bin (my post on composting)
  • Organize a Taste Tour (check Dallas Moms Blogs best restaurants for kids here, here, here and here!)
  • Cook new, destination or theme oriented foods at home. Make every evening an entirely different theme-inspired gustatory adventure! (try Central Market Cooking Schools for how-to: Plano or Dallas locations)

Note from Allstate 21st Century Prosperity: We gathered these tips from articles available on the Allstate Blog.

If you have any questions, you can always reach Shawn and his office at 972-980-0865 or shawnspalding{at}allstate.com.
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Thanks, Shawn and his wonderful office staff! And, happy travels!