Super easy, without any unnecessary chemicals

DIY Microwave Popcorn with a Bowl and a Plate

Food

Popcorn is such an awesome snack! It's easy, fast, and great as a last minute snack idea when you have unexpected guests over. But store bought microwave popcorn can contain unnecessary chemicals like PFAS. While PFAS helps grease-proof the popcorn bags, it also can cause serious health problems like decreased fertility, increased cholesterol levels, harming the growth and development of children, and lowering immune system function. Store bought microwave popcorn can also contain synthetic flavoring and use trans fats. Yuck!

To make matters worse, store bought microwave popcorn can actually be pretty expensive. Per serving, it's much more cost effective to buy some popcorn kernels and butter. And with this microwave method, it's just as fast and as easy! We like the bowl method over using a lunch paper bag, because this is safer and there is no waste created. Plus everyone has a glass or ceramic bowl and a ceramic plate. You can also control how much butter (if any) is used on your popcorn and get creative with new flavor toppings! Try it out today!



Ingredients

  • 1/3 cup popcorn kernels
  • Salt
  • Toppings, like butter, parmesan, herbs, nutritional yeast, furikake

Materials needed

  • Microwave safe bowl (about 3 quarts)
  • Microwave safe plate that is slightly larger than the bowl

Instructions

  1. Pour in ⅓ cup popcorn kernels into the bowl and add a large pinch of salt. You can go up to ½ cup of kernels if you want to make a larger serving.
  2. Place the plate upside down on the bowl. Make sure there is a tight seal with minimal gaps to keep the steam from escaping.
  3. Place the bowl in the microwave for 3-5 minutes. This timing will depend on the strength of your microwave. When the popping slows down, stop the microwave. The bowl and plate will be very hot, so use potholders or a rag to remove the bowl from the microwave.
  4. Toss with melted butter or other toppings of your choice.
Roundups

Non-Toxic School Lunch Packing Essentials

Get ready for school with these eco-friendly options

Packing lunches for school is a lot of work! We know from firsthand experience how hard it can be to pack something nutritious that your kids will actually eat. Plus if you're trying to reduce the amount of food packaging or plastic waste in your kid's lunch, it can just seem overwhelming. To make things easier, we rounded up our favorite non-toxic school lunch packing essentials. We included stainless steel lunchboxes, a hot food container, snack containers and bags, reusable food wrap, and a couple of cute and functional lunch bags. All of these items are free of lead, phthalates (commonly found in vinyl), BPA, and PFAS (Teflon-like chemicals). Check out these lunch packing essentials and get inspired to pack the best lunches ever.



a) Lunchbots Large Stainless Steel Lunch Container

Lunchbots is a great stainless steel bento container that will last for years. This one has 5 compartments for every type of lunch and snack combo you can come up with. You can get dip condiment containers that are leak proof that neatly fit inside. Lunchbots also has smaller containers for snacks that you should check out as well.

b) Planetbox Lunchbox

This stainless steel lunch box is easy for kids to open with a simple latch. The lunchbox comes with containers for wet foods and dips and you can buy extra dividers. The different compartments make it easy to pack a variety of foods. We love how it comes with magnets on the cover so that kids can customize the look. Planetbox also has an insulated carry bag, just make sure to pick one of the patterns that is made without a PFAS durable water repellent. Planetbox also has a smaller sized box for snacks or for little ones.

c) Bentgo Kids Stainless Steel

Bentgo is a favorite bento container that now comes in stainless steel! The silicone lining on the lid makes it leak resistant as and the latches make the container easy to open. It comes with 3 compartments and an extra silicone container.

d) Thermos Stainless Steel Insulated Food Jar

This container keeps food hot for 5 hours and is perfect for days when soup or mac n cheese are on the menu. The handle make it convenient to carry and helps kids open the top.

e) Stasher bags

Stasher bags are so popular for a reason! Say goodbye to single use plastic bags and say hello to a reusable food packing essential that comes in lots of fun colors. We particularly love the sandwich and snack sizes and use them daily.

f) Zip Top Snack Containers

These Zip Top container are as convenient to use as they are cute! We love how they sit flat and are easy to open for small hands. They are perfect for some sliced fruit or any loose snack.

g) Ukonserve Round Nesting Trio Stainless Steel Containers

These snack containers come with see through lids so that kids know what's inside. The are great for snacks, or use all three to pack a bento style lunch. They also nest for easy storage.

h) If you care Sandwich Bags

Sometimes you need a disposable sandwich or snack bag. No judgement! These If You Care unbleached sandwich bags are made of greaseproof, nonstick paper which is biodegradable, compostable, and microwave safe. Perfect for a cookie, sandwich, or other dry snack.

i) Bee's Wrap Reusable Food Wrap

Replace plastic wrap with this sustainable alternative. Bee's Wrap is made from GOTS Certified organic cotton, sustainably harvested beeswax, organic jojoba oil, and tree resin. We love wrapping up snacks, sandwiches, and cut up fruits and veggies in these.

j) Fluf Lunch Bag

This organic cotton canvas lunch bag is fully machine washable! The interior is lined with a food safe water resistant lining (free of PFAS, phthalates, and other harmful chemicals) and has a pocket for a ice pack. The bag comes in so many cute prints and has a very durable canvas handle.

k) Fjallraven Kanken Mini Cooler

This well insulated lunch bag is made of durable, waxed fabric that is PFAS free! Bonus that the the fabric is made from recycled plastic. It comes in lots of cute colors and is sure to be a favorite for kids of all ages.

l) Petit Collage

A roomy insulated lunch box that is easy to wipe clean thanks to a biodegradable laminate made from sugar cane. It comes in several cute patterns and comes with a handle or a strap.

m) Ukonserve insulated lunch bag

This lunch bag is made from recycled plastic bottles and is free of PFAS, phthalates, and other toxic chemicals. It holds ups well to daily use and is roomy enough to pack a lunch plus snacks.

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Artificial food coloring is readily abundant in the products we use everyday, especially in kids products like snacks, candy, and even medicine. These synthetic food dyes are made from petroleum and have been found to be carcinogenic, cause hypersensitivity reactions, and instigate behavioral problems (1). There still needs to be more research done to determine whether or not artificial food colorings cause a myriad of other illnesses and health complications, but until that research is completed we feel that it's best to stay away from these potentially toxic synthetic dyes. That's why we rounded up some popular kids snacks and even medicines and found alternatives that use vegetable and fruit colors instead!

  1. Annie's Organic Bunny Fruit Snacks

  2. Pirates Booty Cheese Puffs

  3. Nature's Path Organic Frosted Berry Strawberry toaster pastries

  4. 365 Rainbow Sprinkles

  5. UNREAL milk chocolate gems

  6. Children's Motrin Dye-free

Sources:

  1. https://cspinet.org/resource/food-dyes-rainbow-risks
Family

Mix 'N Match Snack Ideas

Run out of tasty snacks? We've got you

It can be hard to find healthy snacks you can give to your kids (or even for yourself). That's why we put together a bunch of snack combos that will help your kids get their daily intake of fruits, veggies, proteins, and fats without artificial flavorings and refined sugars. All of the combos are super easy to put together and require little to no cooking. Plus mixing the different colors and textures of the different foods is sure to make snack time more exciting for little kids and even the pickiest of eaters! These snacks are a great way to avoid packaged snacks which means less waste and chemicals getting into our kids food. If you are struggling to find nutritious snacks for your kids or even a way to change up your own diet, check out this graphic of awesome snack combos!

Family

Non-Toxic Snack Swaps

Even picky eaters will love these!

Sometimes it can feel impossible trying to find snacks your kids will like that are still relatively healthy. There are so many different snack options out there and it's hard to tell which snacks are free of refined sugars, dyes, and artificial flavorings. That's why we decided to put together a bunch of non-toxic snack swaps that are great for kids of all age groups! These snack swaps have better ingredients and are overall less processed. Not to mention they are great snacks for when you are on the go!

  1. Bear real fruit snack rolls

  2. Made Good Vanilla Crispy Squares

  3. Simple Mills soft baked almond flour bars

  4. Late July organic peanut butter minis

  5. Bare organic apple crisps

  6. Annie's organic cheddar bunnies
popular

Instagram Blogger Hannah from California Shares Her School Lunch Ideas

We might steal some of these tips for our own lunches!

As soon as August rolls around, we instantly start planning for back to school. While this month is filled with exciting beginnings (new school, new supplies, new teachers), one thing always remains the same… what do I pack in my kid's lunch box?! We asked Instagram blogger Hannah From California to share some tips on how to create easy and healthy lunch box meals. Keep reading for a fun Q&A that includes tips on how to deal with picky eaters, school lunch prep, and how to pack a lunch as a busy parent.

BH: What inspired you to start your Instagram account?

H: My reasons for starting my Instagram account were totally selfish! As a new stay at home mom I was craving that connection, adult conversation, and sense of community from other parents who were all in the same boat as me. Sharing about the meals and snacks I made for my son happened organically, and I quickly realized the challenge of coming up with fresh and nutritious meal ideas day after day. After receiving positive feedback from my food related posts and requests for more simple, healthy meal ideas, I just ran with it! I figured that since I was making all the food anyway, it was easy enough to snap a few photos in hopes that it would give other families some ideas!

Cheese, turkey, pitas, apples, snap peas, bell pepper, cucumber

BH: What are your top 3 tips for parents of picky eaters?

H: First and foremost, I've been there, and you've got this! I do have some tips and tricks that have worked for my son, but before I go into that, I wanted to share about Ellyn Satter's Division of Responsibility Theory. This will hopefully change the way you view meal times (for your own sanity)! The Division of Responsibility is the idea that we (the parents) and our children each have jobs when it comes to mealtime. It is our job as parents to provide a variety of healthy food options and multiple opportunities to sit down and eat. Then, it is our children's job to choose how much and what to eat from what we provide. If you can accept this theory when it comes to feeding your child, like truly BELIEVE it, you will save yourself hours in the kitchen as a short order cook, and overall, you'll be less stressed when you hit those picky eating phases!

Tips & Tricks for feeding picky eaters:

  1. Involve your kids in the meal making!
    There are a number of benefits, both life skills and academic skills, from cooking with your kids, but one of my favorite parts about involving my son in the kitchen is that I know it will greatly increase the chance that he'll eat the meal he helped prepare!
  2. Eat the same food! My son, husband and I eat the same food. Eating with your child, and also eating the same thing, not only makes it easier on you (only preparing one meal), but it allows for modeling during mealtime (look at mama trying and enjoying these different foods and flavors)!
  3. Include a dip! When I include a familiar dip with my son's meal, I can almost guarantee that he'll at least try a new food! Hummus is his favorite!

Finally, whatever you do, do not stop serving the food your child is being "picky" about because exposure is key! Sure, take a day or 2 or a week off, serve it up differently (raw, baked, steamed, with a dip, cut in circles or sticks), but keep including that food with meals because you just never know when they'll be in the mood!

Pita and kale almond hummus, edamame, seaweed, cherries and bunny grahams

BH: What advice do you have for packing healthy school lunches that are easy to do for busy parents?

H: I am a huge advocate of packing lunch boxes the night BEFORE school. Not only does it make mornings (while you're trying to do all the things) much smoother, it allows you take the time to prep and actually think about what you want to pack vs. reaching for all the packaged food while feeling rushed to get out the door and to school on time! Here are a few things I have learned about packing lunches thus far!

  • A lunch box with different sized compartments is key! This helps encourage you to include a variety of healthy options, and the great thing about these boxes is that each section in the box closes completely, so there are no foods mixing together (ex. juice from your strawberries leaking into your sandwich and making it soggy).
  • Note the amount of time your child has to eat at school/camp/daycare and pack accordingly! They only have a certain amount of time to eat at school, which is typically a lot less than we allow for them to spend eating at home. So, If you want your child to eat some of each food included, consider cutting your portions down (for example, pack a ½ a sandwich vs. a full one so that your child has time to each the sandwich and also has time to eat the strawberries and snap peas you included as well).
  • Include foods that you know your kids enjoy and will likely eat! Packed lunches are not the time for you to throw in all the foods your kid is refusing at home; rather, you want them to have a yummy lunch that will fuel their body while they are away from you!

Salami sandwich on seed bread, watermelon stars, bell pepper, pea chips, multi-vitamin gummies

BH: How do you make healthy eating fun for kids when there's so much packaged and processed foods marketed towards kids?

H: For me, I think it is all about our family's attitude toward food, and also what is available in our home. We believe that real, healthy, fresh food is fun! We go to our local farmer's market to see, touch, and taste-test seasonal fruits and veggies. We talk about what foods we're in the mood for, and how might prep it or cook it up! While packaged and processed food is not the norm for us, it's also not viewed or talked about negatively. I have always just made a point to explain to my son which foods do what for our body, and how real, healthy food tastes delicious and can help our body grow strong.

BH: At Because Health we recommend limiting plastic around food and water and buying organic when possible. How do you limit exposure to plastics, toxics chemicals and food additives in your kitchen and food?

H: It's so important to pay attention to what we're putting in (and on) our bodies, and the more I read and learn about this topic, the more I aim to limit the exposure to plastics, toxic chemicals, and food additives. A few simple changes that I have made over the years have been to store my food in glass or stainless-steel containers, use reusable bags, use non-toxic cleaners, and buy organic when possible (especially if as you guys say the produce is leafy, berries, or something you eat with the skin on)!

With fall approaching fast and back-to-school right around the corner, it means that long summer nights and making s'mores might be replaced with long study nights and a need for some brain-fueling, healthy snacks. Even though the convenience of goldfish and fruit gushers might be calling your name at the grocery store, these snacks are full of unhealthy refined sugar and might even potentially contain small amounts of phthalates due to packaging (1). Instead, try making your own snacks at home! It's healthier, extremely easy and better for the planet. Think about all the snack packaging that you toss away each year - I know for me, even though I try to recycle, sometimes I'm not sure if something can be recycled and it all ends up going into the trash. It's definitely more sustainable to make your own snacks in bulk and pack them in reusable (and healthier!) alternatives to grab to-go. The recipes that we've rounded up for you are low in refined-sugar, high in whole-grains, and full of healthy fats that will keep your stomach full and your brain juices flowing. Bonus, you can personalize each of them to taste exactly how you want and making them can be a fun activity with your kids or friends.

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