A healthy breakfast on the go, without any plastic wrappers!

Easy Berry Crumb Breakfast Bars

Food

Whether you're headed to the office or about to drop the kids off at school, breakfast on the go is just a part of life sometimes. We've definitely explored every breakfast bar option on the grocery shelves, but wouldn't it be nice to have a breakfast bar option that didn't include plastic wrappers with ingredients that you can feel good about? Well, we have the recipe for you then! These breakfast bars (adapted from Smitten Kitchen) are gluten free, refined sugar free, and packed with oats and nuts to give you fuel for the day. These bars are kid tested and approved. In our experience they will be begging for them not only at breakfast time, but at snack time too!

The best part is that you can bake up a batch and you'll have breakfast for the entire family for the week. Or better yet, double up the recipe and freeze a batch for an on the go option any time. We used blackberries in this recipe, but feel free to use raspberries too! You could even try figs or apples too, which would be perfect for the fall.

Ingredients

For the crust and the crumb topping

  • 3/4 cup oat flour*
  • ½ cup sweet rice flour
  • ¼ cup tapioca flour
  • 3/4 cup coconut sugar
  • 2 Tbsp maple syrup or honey
  • 1 ¼ cup rolled oats
  • ¾ tsp salt
  • ¾ tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp baking soda
  • ½ tsp ground cinnamon
  • ¾ cup unsalted butter, cut into 1 inch pieces
  • Optional: ½ cup of chopped almonds or pecans or walnuts

For the berry filling

  • ¼ cup coconut sugar
  • 1 Tbsp grated lemon zest
  • ½ tsp cinnamon
  • 2 Tbsp tapioca flour
  • 1 lb blackberries or raspberries
  • ¼ cup lemon juice
  1. Preheat the oven to 350° F. Line a 9" by 13" inch baking pan with parchment paper. Cut one piece of parchment paper to 9" wide and place it going the length of the pan, letting it cover the sides. Then cut another piece of parchment paper 13" wide and place it going the opposite way as the first piece, letting it go up the sides as well. Now you have a parchment paper sling that will help you remove the bars from the pan easily.
  2. Put the flours, coconut sugar, maple syrup, oats, salt, baking powder, baking soda, and cinnamon in a food processor. Pulse a few times to combine. Then add the butter and pulse until large and loose crumbs form. Reserve 1 ½ cups for the crumb topping and set aside.
  3. Scoop the rest of the mixture into the pan and use your hands or the bottom of a measuring cup to pack down the crust into an even layer. Bake the crust until lightly golden, about 15 minutes.
  4. In the meantime, combine the berries, coconut sugar, lemon zest, tapioca starch, cinnamon, and lemon juice into a medium saucepan and cook over medium heat. Use a wooden spoon to help burst the berries, stirring so that the mixture doesn't burn. Cook until the mixture has thickened, about 5-10 minutes depending on how juicy your berries are. You want the filling to be pourable but thick.
  5. Once the crust comes out of the oven, let it cool for about 5 minutes. Spread the berry filling over the top of the crust. Mix the ½ cup of chopped nuts with the remaining 1 ½ cup crust mixture if using nuts. Then sprinkle on top of the berry filling.
  6. Bake the bars for about 30 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through. The filling should be bubbling and have thickened even more.
  7. Let the bars cool in the pan for about 5 minutes. Then use the parchment paper sides to lift the bars out of the pan and let them cool completely on a wire rack. Cut into portions and store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for a few days.
  8. If you want to freeze a batch, place the cut pieces on a cookie sheet and freeze. Then put the frozen bars into a freezer bag or container. Take a frozen piece out overnight to defrost in the fridge, or let thaw for 20 minutes on the counter. (In the summer, they also taste pretty good frozen too!)

* Instead of the oat, sweet rice, and tapioca flours, you can substitute 1 ½ cup gluten free flour or all purpose flour.

Roundups

Non-Toxic & Eco-Friendly Backpacks

The most sustainable backpacks for toddlers, preschoolers, grade schoolers, teens, and adults!

Updated for Fall 2021!

As soon as August rolls around, all we can think of backpacks! A new backpack is often the most exciting thing on the back to school shopping list, especially if the one from last year is torn to shreds or not big enough anymore. Many backpacks are made from harmful plastics like PVC, which contains phthalates, and many times they are treated with a PFAS (Teflon-like) finish. This is why we searched high and low for backpacks that are not only cute and functional, but are also good for the environment. Our backpack recommendations are all phthalate, PVC, and lead free. We also looked for backpacks that are made from recycled water bottles, GOTS certified organic cotton, or that feature a PFAS-free water repellent. We found backs in sizes that will work for toddler, kids, teenagers and adults. Many of these backpacks have different sizing options and all of them come in assorted colors and prints so there really is a backpack for everyone!

We list the dimensions or size in liters of each backpack below. As a reference, toddlers usually need a backpack of about 6 liters, preschoolers from 6-12 liters, elementary school kids from 12-18 liters, and teenagers/adults from 18 liters and above.

a) Apple Park Backpack- Toddler 10.75" x 12" x 5.5", Big Kid 14.5" x 12" x 7"

These cute backpacks are made from 100% recycled materials. Each animal backpack saves 27 plastic bottles from landfills. Also comes in an owl and fox styles, and big kid and toddler sizes.

b) Deuter Kikki Kid's Backpack- 8 liters

This is a really fun little kid backpack. It comes in three different colors and has a chest strap to help your little one carry their load. This backpack is PFAS free and manufactured according to the Blusign (R) standard, which ensures environmental health and safety in the manufacturing of textiles.

c) So Young Toddler Backpack (9.5"L X 5"W X 13"H) and Grade School Backpack (11"L X 5.5"W x 15.5"H)

So Young backpacks come in toddler and grade school sizes and all sorts of unique modern prints. They are constructed of linen and cotton and are free from harmful chemicals.

d) Terra Thread Organic Backpack (16"H x 12"W x 5"D) and Mini Backpack (13"H x 10.5"W x 4"D)

Terra Thread backpacks are made with a durable, thick GOTS certified organic cotton canvas. They are also carbon neutral, because the company purchases carbon offsets. Plus the backpacks are made in a Fair Trade certified factory and the company is a Certified B Corporation! Terra Thread backpacks comes in a mini and a standard size, so it works for kids (and adults!) of all sizes.

e) Fjallraven Re-Kanken (16L) and Re-Kanken Mini (7L)

A special edition of the trendy Kanken backpack from Fjallraven that is made entirely from polyester recycled from plastic bottles. The dye technology also reduces the amount of water, energy, and chemicals used. It comes in a mini and standard size in lots of bright color choices, so there is something for everyone. Fjallraven takes sustainability seriously and has an impressive Code of Conduct. They were also one of the first adopters of going PFAS free.

f) North Face Youth Recon Squash Backpack (17L) and the North Face Sprout Backpack (10L)

North Face has two excellent and well built kids backpacks that are made from 50% recycled polyester. The fabric is water repellent with a non-PFAS durable water repellent. With all the right pockets and comfortable supportive straps, including a chest clip, this backpack will last for many years.

g) LEGO Brick Backpack (18 L)

The perfect backpack for the Lego obsessed. There are two zippered front pockets, and the adjustable shoulder straps and sternum strap all help to make this backpack comfortable. It's also exciting that the fabric is made from recycled plastic bottles, which reduces energy use, water use, and air pollution

h) State Kane Kids Recycled Poly Canvas Backpack Original (14.95" H x 11.22" W x 4.72" D), Mini (12.60" H x 9.45" W x 3.54" D) and Large (17" H x 13" W x 7.5" D)

This backpack is thoughtfully designed and made from 90% recycled polyester. The main compartment has organizational zip pockets and the outside has two side water bottle pockets. The recycled fabric version also comes in several other prints and a mini version for the younger kids! There's even a large size for teenagers. State bags also gives to families in need for every backpack that is purchased.

i) Everlane Renew Backpack (18L or 27L)

This backpack is made from 100% recycled polyester and features a PFAS free water resistant finish. The dyes are also Bluesign (R) approved, which are safer for workers and for the environment. These backpacks feature a zippered laptop pocket and other slip and zippered pockets for organization. It's a comfy and classy backpack that is perfect for class, work, or travel.

j) Fluf B Pack (22L)

These Fluf backpacks are made from GOTS certified organic cotton with 100% recycled polyester felt padding. There is a sleeve for a laptop and a zipper front pouch. For every backpack sold, Fluf donates to support sending a girl to school in a developing country through Plan International.

k) Vera Bradley Reactive Grand Backpack (25 L)

A favorite brand of tweens and teenagers, Vera Bradley now makes backpacks from recycled plastic bottles. This backpack comes in a couple of trendy prints and colors and can hold all the school books kids will need.

l) Jansport Recycled SuperBreak Backpack (26 L)

A classic backpack, but now made with 100% recycled materials. Each backpack is made from the equivalent of 20 plastic bottles! This is a quality lightweight backpack that is great for school and more.


*Because Health is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program so that when you click through our Amazon links, a percentage of the proceeds from your purchases will go to Because Health. We encourage you to shop locally, but if you do buy online buying through our links will help us continue the critical environmental health education work we do. Our participation does not influence our product recommendations. To read more about how we recommend products, go to our methodology page.

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Life

What is Occupational Health & Safety?

The oft forgotten team...until something bad happens.

We spend approximately one-quarter of our lives at work. And when you spend a lot of time at your workplace, it's important you feel safe. That's where occupational health comes in. Occupational health is the part of public health that works to prevent illnesses and injuries in the workplace. Whether you're an office worker looking at a computer the whole day, a nurse dealing with unruly patients, or a construction worker completing dangerous tasks, occupational health works to protect everyone. Read on to find out more about occupational health, your rights at work, and ways to keep yourself safe.

Why Occupational Health Matters

Although we spend a ton of time at work, we don't often believe that we could get sick or injured on the job. Maybe if you work in a factory using heavy machinery the risk is more obvious, but most of the time work feels safe. But almost every job, even desk jobs, have occupational health concerns. An angry customer or co-worker is just as valid of an occupational health concern as extreme heat from working outside as a landscaper.

It's really important that occupational health be placed at the forefront of an employer's priorities because there are many ways work can impact your health. Of course unsafe work environments can lead to serious injury or death, but a workplace can also lead to less-obvious health issues. Mental health may suffer from a bad work environment or challenging work-life balance. Now with the coronavirus pandemic, working from home poses additional mental health challenges, since many are likely to feel confined to one space and experience undue stress or may feel isolated from their coworkers. Additionally, some folks do not have well-designed workspaces and can lead to eye strain and lower-back pain amongst other symptoms. Other common injuries could occur from poor safety culture in which an employer does not properly train you to operate hazardous equipment such as an espresso machine.

How Does Occupational Health Keep Workers Safe?

Occupational health standards and safety protections are often developed in response to historical events we as a society have learned from. Biohazard containers for needles were developed to prevent accidental injections of biological hazards to nurses, sanitarians, and other healthcare professionals. Previously, these could be stored in bags which would occasionally tear or be punctured by needles, inadvertently injecting workers in hospitals and other healthcare settings. The skull and crossbones or danger symbol on hazardous chemicals is used to alert users about dangerous chemicals that can cause you harm. Cooling vests were created for outdoor workers in hot environments so they can stay cool throughout their shifts.

Although our mental and well-being may not be thought of from a more traditional occupational health perspective, we know that our jobs and our personal life can be intertwined and sometimes difficult to compartmentalize. As a result, taking care of ourselves can impact our performance and interactions at work. Research shows that an employee's mental health is a crucial determinant of their workplace performance. Stress from work can cause physical illnesses like "hypertension, diabetes and cardiovascular conditions" (1).

Occupational Health During the Coronavirus Pandemic

With COVID-19 impacting workers, occupational health is proving to be a critical area of focus to combat a pervasive virus. Both national and state branches of OSHA have provided guidelines to follow during the pandemic (2). Oregon's occupational health department, for example, is requiring all companies to follow COVID-19 guidelines like physical distancing, mask wearing, and limiting the number of people in a carpool (3). If businesses don't comply with these rules, states can issue fines or citations. CAL OSHA fined businesses upwards of twenty thousand dollars for not protecting their workers during the pandemic (4). Many businesses have gone above and beyond regulations to try to make their employees as safe as possible by increasing air flow in buildings to reduce viral counts in indoor environments, wearing gloves when working with clients or customers in the service industry, and wearing masks while at work and in public.

What You Can Do and Resources to Learn More

It is important we all take a community-based approach in protecting each other's health by ensuring our employers are complying with OSHA and CDC recommendations and requirements. By advocating for your rights as an employee, you are fighting to protect public health. Some ways to get involved and stay proactive with your health at work is by asking a few of these questions:

  • What has my employer done to help combat COVID-19 transmission at work?
  • Where is the written Respiratory Protection Plan and is it up to date?
  • What accommodations are provided if you are not able to wear a respirator for medical or health reasons?
  • What training is provided by my employer for occupational health and safety, and when was it last updated?

This is not an inclusive list, but it is a starting point to help you think of what your employer can, has, and should do to protect your health. Also, it is important that you know your rights as an employee and advocate via the whistleblower program if your employer is unwilling to listen. This program protects you from any retaliation your employer may try to evoke as a result. Also, getting involved with your local union (if you belong to one) or a work-related association can greatly increase your power. And of course, wear a mask (if you are not recommended to wear a respirator). It's not fool-proof, but it's one of the last lines of defense for you and your co-workers on the job. We, as a community, must be proactive to save lives during the current pandemic.

To learn more about occupational health and safety, check out these additional sites:

ASSP - American Society of Safety Professionals

COSH - National Council for Occupational Safety & Health - Non-profit advocating for occupational health and safety

NIOSH - National Institution of Occupational Health & Safety - good site for occupational health psychology as well!

NSC - National Safety Council

OSHA - Occupational Safety & Health Administration - COVID-19

If you believe working conditions are unsafe or unhealthy, you may file a confidential complaint with OSHA and ask for an inspection. If possible, tell your employer about your concerns. There are many ways to file a complaint, including by calling 800-321-OSHA or filing an online complaint, as well as other methods including in person. Information is available on OSHA's website at https://www.osha.gov/workers/file-complaint.

If you believe you have been retaliated against in any way, file a whistleblower complaint within 30 days of the alleged retaliation. There are several ways to do that and each is detailed on OSHA's website at https://www.whistleblowers.gov/complaint_page.



References

  1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3062016/
  2. https://www.osha.gov/SLTC/covid-19/standards.html
  3. https://osha.oregon.gov/rules/advisory/infectiousdisease/Documents/Oregon-OSHA-Draft-Temporary-COVID-19-Rule-Sept-25-2020.pdf
  4. https://ohsonline.com/articles/2020/10/05/cal-osha-fines-los-angeles-grocery-stores-for-coronavirus-violations.aspx
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