A More Sustainable Lunches Continues… the HORROR of ziplock bagsOct. 15th

ziplocksI have a confession to make: I use ziplock bags, a lot of them. Before my son started kindergarten, it would take at least 6 months to go through the box of ziplock bags, but suddenly, with packing school lunches for a picky eater, I have been going through 1 box every month. I hate to think that I’m contributing to the giant trash gyre of the pacific, or to my family’s exposure to endocrine disruptors released by plastics. Plastic, a ubiquitous part of modern life, is very hard to eliminate from the household. I remember one playdate I went to where the house was pretty much plastic free. I was so envious of the amount of jars and pretty ceramic containers that they had. So, I’ve tried to start, with one container at a time, one less processed food at a time. After all, my cupboard used to be full of Teflon non-stick pans  and one by one I replaced them with safer (and more expensive) options. One step at a time, I CAN do this!! I’m not much of a seamstress, so luckily there’s Etsy with lots of options for hand-made reusable bags.handmade bags When choosing fabrics, you want to look for BPA and phthalate free material as the liner, as some are made with cheaper PVC plastic that is not safe for packaging food. When I googled “do it yourself sandwich bags”, the first link was to a better homes and garden article which says to use the PVC fabric because it is easier to sew than ripstop nylon. If you are handier at sewing than I am, you can look at do it yourself materials on the internet like this. Your kids will enjoy picking their own fabrics and you can teach them how to sew with this really easy first project. You can even sell them for your PTA fundraiser instead of candy or other junk food popularly used as fundraiser fare. So, who’s with me in dumping plastic ziplock bags?

Guest Blogger: Rebecca Wolthers, parent educator and aspiring green mom

Guest Post: 5 ideas to get us out of a lunchbox rutOct. 12th

HeartSandwich

When we think of school lunches normally food items such as a sandwich, mini pizza, cookies, a pack of juice come to mind. These are what usually form the lunch box of a child. Why is that so? Mainly because they are convenient and children like them too. No preparation time is required, saving you time and effort, and all you have to do is pop them in your child’s bag. Children also love you for that. But are parents really doing a favor to their kids by giving them such items for school lunch? Not really. Not only are these highly processed but they also contain high levels of sodium, preservatives and sugar, making them unhealthy. School canteens also do not always have a variety of healthy options available. Besides, it is better for you to pack homemade lunch for your children rather than giving them money to buy something from school. Not only will that ensure that the food is hygienic and nutritious but it will also save loads of money over time. Since most kids are unaware of the health hazards of unhealthy food, it is up to you to provide them with nutritious meals and help them eat healthy.

Last night’s leftovers

No, there is no hard and fast rule that school lunches can only include chips and cookies. Last night’s leftovers will work just fine. Did your child love the meatballs from last night? You could make some extra and maybe add some rice with it. There you have a healthy lunch ready and something that your child would be eager to have. You could prepare chicken chunks, make chicken and egg spread for a sandwich, fry or bake boneless fish. There are plenty of options for you to consider. Just make sure to pack everything properly to ensure freshness and safety. You could use a thermos for warm food. Include reusable utensils and cloth napkin for ease.

Fruits and vegetables

Pack them such that they can be eaten easily. A child would prefer sliced apples and oranges rather than a whole one. The downside is that they would turn brown by lunch time and your child would rather skip them. Use lemon juice on them to avoid that. Bananas could be given as they are. A bag of grapes is also a good idea. Rather than buying jams and jellies from the stores, you could prepare these at home. The ones available in the supermarket contain very high sugar levels plus preservatives. Some children tend to prefer smoothies over eating fruits. If your child is one of them, you could skip on whole fruits and instead prepare a fruit smoothie, with maybe just a small portion of some vegetable, like spinach. Believe me they would not be able to spot the difference. The best part is that this could be prepared the night before and frozen.

Dairy products

Smoothies are a good way for your child to consume dairy. If not, you could give them the small tetra packs of milk available in the market. Another option is yogurt that you could freeze at night and it would be ready to be eaten by lunchtime. You could add fruits to the yogurt to make it more appealing to a child’s palate. But while you are working on adding dairy to your kids’ diet, think about choosing organic dairy products. You will be doing a favor not only to your children but also to the environment. Factory farms are still injecting artificially produced hormones into cows that make them give more milk. This is not natural and definitely not healthy for you, your children, or the cows. Opt for organic milk even if it costs slightly more.

Grains

How can you incorporate grains in your child’s lunch? Whole grain or whole wheat bread should be preferred over white bread. Prepare rice cakes at home and sprinkle them with fruit syrup or maybe peanut butter to make them more appealing. Whole grain crackers are also a good idea and you could also include cheese in the lunch box to go with them. Making cookies at home of whole grains, such as oatmeal raisin cookies instead of the usual chocolate chip, will add nutritional value to their desserts. 

Proteins

Meat does not necessarily have to be a part of your child’s diet to get them to take in protein. If they do not like it, do not fret. There are alternatives. Egg is a great source of protein, and packaged perfectly for on the go. Hard boiled eggs are easy to prepare and eat. Nuts are also good for lunch or snack time. You could prepare chicken salad or a tuna sandwich if they are into these.

Final thoughts

Children who have healthy, well balanced lunches are better able to concentrate in their class than those who go for the less variations. So there is another reason you should ensure that your children are being supplied with a healthy lunch box. There is also the issue of food allergy to consider. If a certain kind of food does not suit your child, it is best to have their lunch packed from home. Kids may not be as careful about their food choices even if you have instructed them about it beforehand. It is better to be safe.

Author Bio:

Batool Ali is an international blogger who loves to write on different disciplines such as Health, lifestyle, fashion, finance and education.

A More Sustainable Lunch Continues….Oct. 8th

Today’s entry focuses on how to reduce waste and packaging when it comes to the lunchbox. In our featured video, Lily shows us not only what the contents of her lunch look like but how it is packed.

  • reduce, reuse, recycle may be words that seem over played but they really cut to the basics and are in the right order of operations. If you are striving for a more whole foods diet for health reasons for example, you will have the bonus of reducing plastic and cardboard packaging that are ubiquitous in the processed food aisles of the grocery store. You may also be using more bulk foods, which will prompt you to have glass or tin containers to hold your bulk foods, and nearly completely eliminate plastic containers and throw away boxes. Instead of grabbing a box of “insert comfort food here” you may learn how to make more things from scratch, one recipe at a time replacing such things as granola bars and cookies and turning them into secret power foods with nut butters and coconut sugars instead of processed sugars and empty calories.
    • DO THIS MORE: Bulk foods are now widely available

bulkaisle

 

AND LESS OF THIS: health food stores have attractive and tempting packaging!

0924151016

 

Sometimes it is easier to get kids on board than to “sustain” sustainability, so we want to hear about your “reduce” and “reuse” hacks, including containers, bento boxes, lunch bags, etc… especially home made and low cost options. Here’s a great read on high quality sustainable and safe lunch boxes, Here’s some wild ideas from a sustainable restaurateur to cut your food waste, including how to tell if your eggs have gone bad, and some pretty wild ideas on how to eliminate packaging in your kitchen or pantry.

Coming soon, a guest blog on healthy lunch ideas, organic and humane products, local and home grown produce, and recipes galore!!

Question of the MonthOct. 2nd

PP Question_Leaf

How do you pack a more healthy, sustainable lunch for your kids?

lunch bentos

With everyone caught in the Back to School frenzy, our October topic is all about our desire to explore how to pack our kid’s lunches in a way that aligns with our values regarding keeping our planet and our bodies clean and sustainable. With many modern parenting issues, there are often more questions than answers that come up, and we are all about taking ideas and putting them into action. For some, sustainable may be about organic, for others, about going vegan, or even dabbling in urban permaculture. In the end, we all have to make it work within our family’s budget and time constraints. It isn’t a contest to see who is the greenest parent, but comes from a desire to put good things in our children’s bodies so that they can feel healthy, happy, and energetic. We want to show our kids how to be stewards of the earth and make good choices for themselves and their future families. The resources that come out of making these inquiries will hopefully help you come to terms with the lunchbox struggle in a way that fits your values.

This month we will be sharing ideas, recipes, and yes, PLAYING around on Youtube! Stay tuned!

Thanksgiving Food FunNov. 14th

f585ae8aa683b478f52a6009a9595f2c

You may have seen this image (and many more) pop up on Facebook, Pinterest, etc… It just stood out to me as the perfect dish for Thanksgiving, especially if you have kids in the house.  What better way to celebrate AND get a few veggies into ya before the pie, than with this adorable critter?  

As serious as getting healthy food into your kids is, for disease prevention and optimal health, we sometimes forget to make food FUN!  I’m planning on making this for Thanksgiving~ How about you?  Now go and play with your food!   

Playful Lisa

 

 

 

Grateful Monday: Grateful for FriendshipsMar. 18th

When I was 7 and kids were picking on me at school my mom gave me the best advice I have ever heard, “If you are lucky enough to have two friends in this world you can count on you have it made.” As an adult I find that to be more and more true. When we are younger its all about being popular and having tons of “friends.” I think once you hit your 20’s more so late 20’s you start to realize what a friendship is. 

If its that friend you can tell anything to and they will never judge you, they will sit there and listen and cry with you and lift you up when need be. They will celebrate your accomplishments and not be jealous of them. They will tell you the truth and never say something behind your back. 

I think its important to teach kids especially girls that friendships sometimes are fleeting. Some friends are meant to be in your life for a certain amount of time. Some you will lose touch with as you grow up. Some you will met under the weirdest and silliest of circumstances and they will change your life forever. Some you will hold on to from the age of five and when you see them you can remember that first day you met like it was yesterday. Some will disappoint you, some will surprise you, some will open you up to new things. 

The best friends though are the ones at the end of the day you know are there. No matter what. No matter what day or time. No matter whats happening in their lives. 

Friendships are one of the most valuable of things in this world and we should hold on to them with everything we have. 

Today especially I am grateful for my friendships. I know I have at least two people I can count on and my mom was very right. 

A New BeginningJan. 6th

We here at Playful Planet hope your year is off to a great start! We have been taking time to spend time with our families and make plans for this year and Playful Planet! We hope you will join us on our journey this year as we hope to bring you new and exciting things as well as share with you resources that will help with your family lifestyle towards a greener, and wiser planet!

Join us on facebook and twitter and be sure to catch our weekly Simple as ABC updates, along with our library of Playful Tube Videos that will open your mind and heart and propel you to take action! Be sure to come over to Playful Planet often as we enjoy all our guests!!!

May your year be filled with new journey and new ways of looking at the world!
Forever Stay Playful!

How Dads Can Encourage Kids to Love Nature-by Guest Writer, Ken MyersNov. 19th

How Dads Can Encourage Kids to Love Nature

(photo by Rani Shah)

Dads are typically known as the parent that instills a love of sports into their children, and are frequently seen with a happy child on their shoulders, both wearing matching hats and jerseys. They also are usually the ones you can find underneath the hood of a car with a bright-eyed child in tow, eagerly soaking up all the knowledge of tools and engines that only a dad is able to offer. But what about nature? Dads are also able to impart a great love of nature on their children, and here are a few ways they can do so:

1. Designate a few weekends a year to go camping, just you and the kids. There’s something about sitting next to a crackling fire roasting marshmallows for s’mores, rolling out sleeping bags under the vast, starry night sky, and swapping stories as the frogs croak and the crickets chirp that can make anyone appreciate all that nature has to offer. Having a few trips each year where just Dad takes the kids camping can help instill a love of nature and an appreciation for the time spent together.

2. Take up hobbies that involve nature. From early morning fishing trips to starting a rock collection to weekend hiking trips, there are several different hobbies that dads can take up with their children to help them understand and appreciate all that nature has to offer. While out enjoying these hobbies, be sure to point out different things that you can only find in nature, such as the cool fog over the lake in the early morning or the self-sufficiency that plants and animals have learned to rely on.

3. Be enthusiastic and passionate about nature, and don’t be afraid to share those feelings with your kids. While you don’t ever want to try to force your child to love the same things that you do, you do want to be open with your appreciation for nature. Let your kids know why you love the outdoors like you do. A parent’s passions can be infectious to kids, so don’t be afraid to share your love of nature and the great outdoors with your little ones.

4. Plan active, outdoorsy vacations. Instead of going to theme parks or spending your days lazing on the beach during your vacations, plan vacations to natural landmarks instead. Visit the Grand Canyon, take a big camping trip in Yellowstone National Park, and find other outdoors-inspired vacations that you can take your family on. Being around such awe-inspiring natural beauty can help your kids learn to appreciate nature in a whole new way.

5. Make being outdoors a way of life. From the time your kids are born be sure to spend plenty of time outdoors, engaging in different outdoor activities. When being outdoors and appreciating nature are just a normal way of life, your kids are much more likely to harbor the same love for it as you do.
Encouraging your kids to appreciate and love nature is as easy as simply making it a way of life, which you can do by taking outdoorsy vacations, having outdoor hobbies, and sharing your passions in as many other ways as possible.

Author Byline:
Ken Myers the editor in chief is a frequent contributor of http://www.gonannies.com/

Ken helps acquiring knowledge on the duties & responsibilities of nannies to society. You can reach him at kmyers.ceo@gmail.com.