Sunday, June 28, 2015

Vegan What I Ate Today: June 2015 (with kids!)

So I might have fallen off the bandwagon for the month of May in keeping up with my "Vegan What I Ate Today" series (cue the crazy end of the school year for me), but I'm back and ready to share my vegan food for the day for the month of June.

So if you haven't seen the past two "What I Ate" posts you can check out "March" here or "April" here. Or you can jump right in to my gluten-free, vegan food for the day...and since it's summer I figured I would share a little bit about what I do with my girls now that I'm home with them for my summer break from teaching. So this post is a combo of "what I ate" and "a day in the life." Let's get started!

Now, you would think I'd be sleeping in on my day's off, and in the past I have, but now that I have my girls I need all the time to myself that I can get because once they are awake, they take a lot of my attention.  With this is mind, I still get up at my usual "work day time" of 4:45 AM. This allows me to get up, workout, get some computer work done, shower, and get ready all before my girls wake up...which is a glorious thing to me. I think it's mainly because that's how it is during the school year, that's my routine, so to get up at the same time as them (7:15-7:30) I feel WAY behind already.

So here I am 5:00 AM with my warm lemon water: 8 oz. warm water + juice of 1 lemon
During this time I write in my little journal. This is where I keep track of my exercise from the previous day (that I was too tired to write the night before), how much sleep I got, my dreams if I can remember them, and any other thoughts I have right when I wake up. I track food symptoms, things to be grateful for, and ideas for posts and videos. Probably sounds like a lot to be writing first thing in the morning, but I don't write on all the topics each morning, just whatever comes to mind that particular day.
5:25 AM Pre-workout snack: Erewhon Brown Rice Cereal with Trader
Joe's Rice Drink and Lakanto Sweetener
While eating my pre-workout snack, I do some social media time. This is where I reply to YouTube and blog comments, check email, and maybe edit a video if I have time. Usually I only have about 20-30 minutes max for this, so replying to comments is about all I get to. I've found I enjoy replying to comments much more in this small quantity (just a few a day) instead of waiting for them all to pile up and it taking me an hour or two once a week. I bet you all like hearing from me a little quicker too!

Replying to comments while eating my pre-workout snack.

Workout: 60 minutes Bethenny Frankel's Skinny Girl Yoga Workout. This is one of my favorite workouts to do to stretch and tone. As you'll see in the video, I love plan and come up with ideas for posts, videos, and even my finances (hence the planner I set down in front of my yoga mat). Something about exercise gives me the best ideas, so I'll stop a pose or wait for a break, jot something down, and then get right back into my workout.  Can you tell I do a lot of thinking, planning, and writing in the morning? I seriously love my mornings to myself. The rest of my day gets so busy and crazy with kids, so I savor this early morning time to myself and use it to not only fuel my body, but also my mind.

I'm way happier with my girls once they get up too, since I know I've already had some time to myself to get my workout in, get some work done, get out all the thoughts and ideas I have floating around in my head, and take a shower. This way I feel refreshed and ready for them, not already behind and they are roaring and ready to go. Maybe it's just the little piece of "working mom" I still have left in me? To where even though I'm on summer break, I still like to have some routine/consistency/sense of productivity. Can anyone else relate? 

Here's a preview of this DVD:

After my workout, I shower, get ready and then my girls usually start to
wake up.
 Morning smoothie recipe:

Blend + serve.

7:30 AM: Breakfast smoothie. I make one smoothie and share a portion with
Mila (as Avery is not a fan).

Every morning Mila loves to push this Croods movie
DVD case (not even the actual movie, just the case)
around our kitchen counter in her stroller, it's hilarious.

She then has a small portion of my smoothie in her smoothie cup. Right
when she gets up I nurse her, so she's not too hungry when we're all
eating our smoothies/breakfast snacks.

8:00 Avery's breakfast: a KIND Bar (Strawberry and Peanut Butter)
She usually eats half now, and an hour or two later,
then she'll eat the other half.

9:00 AM: Morning snack #1: Fruit bowl, 1 banana + several organic
strawberries.  Other than my smoothie in the morning, this is the only fruit I eat all day
as it seems to mess with my digestive system if I eat it later in the day
and combine it with other food. As you can see from my bowls, we all have this
for a snack. Usually I chop Mila's frozen grapes in half.

Finishing her KIND Bar on our way to Nana and Papa's house.
On this day we headed over to my parent's house to hang out. They are both teachers like me, and also off on summer vacation so it's fun to have the chance to spend more time with them. 

As you can see, Avery caught on to me taking pictures of everything
in our morning so far, so she was all about taking pictures too of her food
and in this case of her sister's "cute feet"!

10:15 Morning Snack: "Quinoa Oatmeal" (actually no oats, just reminds
me of oatmeal. I made this using rice milk, Lakanto Sweetener, 
and some Ancient Harvest Quinoa Hot Cereal Flakes.

Avery had a little of my "oatmeal" to snack on as well.

Lunch 12:15: Wildwood Sprouted Tofu Veggie Burger, organic roasted
potato rounds, steamed peas.

I like to dip mine in Organicville Ketchup and BBQ Sauce.

The girls lunch was a mix of leftovers with Field Day Gluten-Free Pasta
with spaghetti sauce, some of my leftover veggie burger, and a little
frozen mango. They also ended up with some of my peas as well. 

Lunchtime with my girls.

For their dessert (which I use sometimes to motivate them to try healthy
foods or eat a little more), they got a Lucy's Gluten-Free Chocolate Chip Cookie.
Avery got a full one and Mila got half of one. 
After lunch we head home and I put them down for a nap, which they take at the same time (thank you!). I then lay down and take a 15-20 minute nap to recharge a bit since I've been up since 4:45 AM. After I get up, I head downstairs to "work" and snack. 

2:15 PM: Drink up time: Daily Chia Seed Drink: 2 cups water+ 3 Tbs. chia
seeds + 1 packet of SweetLeaf Stevia + juice from 1 lemon. About 20 minutes
later I'll have a Peanut Butter Cookie Larabar.
During this time I work on my writing blog posts, filming or editing YouTube videos, or when my eyes are tired from looking at a computer screen I do some cleaning and decluttering (one of my favorite things to do in the summer when I'm on break).

Then I usually hear this little sleepyhead whispering at me from the stairs, "Mom...I'm awake!" So she comes on down in her over-sized t-shirt (her favorite PJ attire at the moment) and gets a snack. Usually it's vegan yogurt or today she had a MamaChia Chia Squeeze.

"I'm awake and I'm hungry...and why is this camera tripod out?"

3:15 Avery's snack: MamaChia Chia Squeeze

Shortly after that Mila wakes up and she likes to have a Trader Joe's Strawberry
Fruit Squirter. 

About an hour later, the girls (aka snacking machines) are hungry again, so they have
some Lentil Snaps together. 

4:45 PM Green Juice: 2-3 stalks of swiss chard, 1 gala apple, 1 knob of ginger
3 stalks of celery, 1/2 a lemon peeled, 1/2 a large cucumber *all organic
I like to wait at least 2 hours from the last meal/snack that I've eaten to have my green juice so it's easier for me to digest, instead of getting stuck behind tons of food. And tonight we were heading to our local pool, so I made a "green juice to-go" with this straw lid on my mason jar.

After playing at the pool for an hour, I "bribed" them with some Trader Joe's Organic Fruit Wraps, and we headed home to get ready for dinner. 

Bikini Mila snacking on a fruit wrap.

Avery with my Dad.

6:30 PM: Dinner was Veggie Burritos. For mine I had a Food for Life
Gluten-Free tortilla shell with Dayia Cheddar Cheese, brown rice, organic
fajita veggies (red pepper, green pepper, onion and spices), organic corn,
salsa, and Trader Joe's guacamole...with a few organic corn chips on the side.

As you can see we make this like an assembly line with rice in the rice cooker,
black beans, fajita veggies, guacamole, salsa, and corn. This way we can
make our burritos specific to us. Personally I can't seem to handle beans lately
so I avoid those, and Brandon seems to be allergic to whole corn, so he skips
that one. I love buffet style meals. ( :

For my girls I made cheesy quesadillas with Daiya Cheddar Cheese and
Food for Life gluten-free tortillas, as well as salsa, guacamole, beans,
rice, corn and a few veggies (they are not bell pepper fans). 

Family dinner time.

For dessert the girls each had a Dandies Vegan Marshmallow.

For my dessert: 1/8 cup of Lily's Sweets Baking Chips (stevia-sweetened)
Sometimes I don't have the time or energy to cook a fancy dessert or even just
a regular dessert, so I pour some chocolate chips into a measuring cup and eat
those for my dessert. Quick, easy, and satisfies my sweet tooth.
Anyone else like to eat just plain chocolate chips? ( :

So there you have my food for the day, and all the things I did on a typical day at home with my girls in the summer. Did you see any food you would like to try or do you have a special food you or your kids have been loving lately? Share it below! See you next month for the next "What I Ate" post.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Natural Flea Prevention & Treatment

Last year my dogs ended up getting fleas...and I almost lost my mind. In this week's post I share all the products we tried to get rid of them, what finally worked, and how we are NATURALLY preventing them from coming back.  So let's jump right in...

So about 8 months ago we got a sweet and sort of naughty little puppy we named JJ, which stands for "Jackson Jr." (Jackson was a dog my husband had for close to 10 years who passed away back in 2012). Despite being a little overwhelmed with having two kids, and one dog already, my husband just knew our other dog Jilly, was ready for sibling. So after finding just the right one, a black Chow Chow, just like Jackson was, he brought him home and all was well or as well as it could be with a puppy...until we spotted some fleas on him a few weeks later.

Puppy JJ

Could he have had the fleas when we got him? Maybe. But either that or us taking to long to start him on some type of "flea prevention" medicine or ointment, came back to bite us big time. The fleas spread to our other dog Jilly, and before we knew it, they were in our home...cue major freakout!

Now most preventative flea treatments and medications consist of treatments like Frontline, which you apply to your pet's skin every couple of months to keep the fleas away. But products like this contain things called organophosphates, which are what prevent and kill fleas on your pet (by interfering with their nervous system. The only problem is that organophosphates are incredibly toxic (literally, they are neurotoxins), not only to the pet itself, but also to those kids and family members living with the pet in how they could touch, pet, or just be in more contact with pets. (Read more here or here). Also, you can even check on the NRDC website how your preventative medicine ranks in safety by clicking here.

I know my girls love cuddling with our dogs. 

Flea Info
In case you don't know, fleas are extremely small, and although they can't fly, they can jump from dog to dog, dog to person, carpet to person, etc. Aside from jumping, fleas also like to lay eggs. Female fleas can lay 27 eggs per day...making it near impossible to kill and prevent more fleas from infesting your house, pets, yard, and family! Even better, fleas can bite (since their source of food is blood). They like to bite the animals they live on, and occasionally people too. Usually these appear as small little red bumps on the skin around feet, ankles, and legs. Want to learn more about fleas? Here's and interesting link with graphics.

No if your pet currently DOES NOT have fleas, skip down to the section called "Prevention" at the bottom of the post to save some time, or continue reading now to hear all the things we tried and what eventually worked to help us get rid of the fleas.

"Okay Mom, give them the rundown..."
Check out all the things we tried and what eventually worked in this week's video:

What we tried...
When we first discovered the fleas, I went the natural route, like every green, tree-lovin blogger would do, I mixed up a nice little batch of essential oils in a spray bottle (something like this recipe with Lavender, Purify, and Peppermint...and I added TerraShield) and started spraying away. It did nothing. I gave it a night and still no sign of the fleas going away. So we went and got an eco-friendly flea/tick bath soap (Sentry Natural Defense Dog Shampoo and then this one: Natural Chemistry-Natural Flea & Tick Shampoo). Awesome, wash them up and call it a day, right?

Wrong. The next day we checked and although it helped remove the fleas on them at that moment, we didn't realize that by being back in our carpeted living room, they were just reinfested again. Luckily our "flea infestation" was never severe. Yes, my dogs had it, and it was in our home...but to someone coming in, it wasn't that visible...not like those nasty images you find when you Google, "Flea infestation". Eww! But no matter how small it was, it was still there and still on my dogs. Enough to make anyone go crazy.

So I turned a blind eye while Brandon went and got a more toxic flea bath soap (Advantage Flea & Tick Shampoo for Dogs and Puppies). Again the fleas remained.

So knowing they were coming from the carpet, we got a "natural" carpet powder that you can put down, leave for a few hours and vacuum up (Sentry Natural Defense Flea and Tick Carpet Powder) This still didn't work and even worse: broke our Dyson vacuum! Luckily we were able to get it repaired, but a vacuum is key to getting rid of fleas so that really set us back. No picture of this lovely product, I threw it in the trash in a moment of anger!

From that point on, it was kind of a blur. Here's some more of the products we tried and that failed.
  • Had the carpets professionally steam cleaned, that would be a sure thing right? Wrong. They came back (thank you dogs even though we gave them a bath before they were allowed back on the carpet).
  • Flea Spray-Nothing unnerves you like seeing an actual flea crawling on your dog, so this is what we sprayed to kill the fleas on contact, but it was toxic-eww. (Sentry Flea and Tick Pet Spray)

  • Had our backyard treated for pests/bugs- Surely this would help right? Maybe address the source of where they were possibly coming from? But still no luck.
  • Texas Cedarwood Essential Oil- I really thought this was going to work, I mean fleas apparently hate the smell of cedar wood, but it didn't work. I only discovered that I HATE the smell of cedarwood now!

  • Spray for the baseboards- As if it's bad enough that the fleas can hang out in the carpet, apparently they can also hang out on the base boards too, what are these, superbugs? So we tried this spray as well. (Sentry Natural Defense Household Spray)

  • Natural flea collars-(PetGuard Herbal Collar for Dogs) It was probably a little too late with these, I kept waiting to see the fleas just jumping right off the dogs, but it still did nothing except make them smell like potpourri. 
  • Shoo! Flea Tag- This seemed really promising, a little chip that you put on your dog's collar and it creates a magnetic field that repels fleas...apparently. But it was hard to find directions on how to put it on the dogs. Inside the collar closest to their fur? Or on the dog tags? Lots of questions unanswered, and after a few days it still didn't work. It's possible our dogs were a bit too hairy with all their fur? Guess we'll never know. (Read some of the Amazon reviews here).

  • Flea light lamps- (Victor Ultimate Flea Trap)This seemed like a nice green option that would help solve the flea problem in the house/carpet.  These are lamps that you put in your "infested rooms" and then turn off the room light, and turn on the flea light and since fleas apparently like to be near the light they will jump to the light and get stuck on a sticky piece of paper inside the lamp, thus trapping them. This helped for a few days, but then they didn't seem to want to jump anymore, or the paper lost it's "sticky-ness" and shortly after the bulbs burned out. Bummer.

As you can see they caught hair and one or two little fleas in this lamp.

Here's the results after a few days on one of the sticky papers in our living
room where it has more fleas.

Sort of looks like a lot, but some of them were just gnats, not fleas- gross, but
not quite the goal we were hoping for.

Last but not least, I actually talked to a local pest control company about the possibility of them "spraying inside our" but the thought of it made me sick. Spraying toxins and pesticides right where my girls play with their toys and sleep in their beds...I knew I was desperate, but there had to be a better way.

The solution
One day the stars aligned and I was googling my "No-Poo Shampoo" post (to send someone a link) and a product popped up: "Ashley's Green No Flea". This threw me for a loop, given the name of my blog, so I clicked it. It turned out to be a natural flea prevention product that goes into your pet's water and it prevents fleas naturally by making them become offensive to fleas and ticks, but not to humans. The solution you add to the pet's water is made up of vinegar and garlic, and when you add it to your pet's water on a daily basis it can prevent fleas and ticks in a healthy and green way over the long term, so you never have to buy Frontline again!

I was sold instantly, and purchased a bottle. It was torture waiting for it to come, but when it did I put it right to work on our dogs. I had a plan and I was ready to make it work.

The plan

1. Put the "Ashley's Green No Flea" product in their water, every day, every time their water gets filled up.

2. Continue vacuuming the house DAILY.  

Looks like Mila is ready to be Daddy's vacuuming assistant.

3. Give them a bath in the eco-friendly flea wash once a week (washing them too much can wreck havoc on their fur and skin).

4. Continue washing all of our bedding every 2-3 days with hot water (just as a precaution, since fleas could jump onto us and get in our bedding).

The downside to the "No Flea" food and water product is that it doesn't work fast. It actually takes 6-10 days to start working, but since I had exhausted all other options, I was game.

But wasn't long before I started to see the fleas less and less. And within a week or two, the fleas were finally gone. We were exhausted from the daily vacuuming, and  frequent laundry loads of bedding, but it was worth it in the end. Although it could have been any number of treatments that finally got rid of the fleas, I truly think it was the Ashley's Green No Flea Food and Water Supplement because it addressed the source: the dogs and by making them offensive to fleas the fleas no longer had a food source and as a result: we no longer had fleas!

After going through that awful flea-ridden time, I want to make sure my dogs NEVER have fleas again and I supposed I could go the Frontline route, but with the success I've had with the Ashley's Green No Flea Food and Water Supplement, I'm sticking with it. As of now, my dogs have been flea-free for 8 months thanks to the No Flea supplement. So if you're interested in giving it a try, here's how you do it, trust me, it's simple:

1. Add 1 Tbs. of No Flea food and water supplement to 1 Quart of water each time you fill up your pet's water bowl. That's it. As you see in the video, we are so used to the amount that we just kind of "eye it" and since our bowl is a little over a quart, we use a little more than 1 Tbs. to adjust.

I wondered if my dogs would be skeptic of the taste of it, but it hasn't seemed to affect them, since they drink it right up.

Also if your dog has an outside water bowl, you'll want to add the No Flea product to that as well.

The downside to this method is that you will want to keep a supply of Ashley's Green No Flea on hand at all times to keep the fleas away, but you would have to do that with any other treatment plan you were considering, so at least this one is a little cheaper, and much healthier for your dog and your family.

If you are interested in learning more about the Ashley's Green No Flea product, you can click here to head to their website or if you are interested in purchasing the product, you'll follow this link also to their website, since this is the only place you can purchase it at this time (so don't go checking at Petco they won't have it). Here's the pricing for the product:

  • 6-16 oz. bottles for $35 (this is what I get to save on shipping and it will last us about 6-8 months, it could last longer or shorter depending upon how many pets you have)
  • 12- 16oz. bottles $61
  • 1 gallon bottle $38
  • or you could try just one bottle for $8 over on this website (this is what I did when I first heard about it since I didn't want to get 6 bottles if it didn't work)
Benefits of No-Flea:
  • Good for all pets from dogs (even puppies), cats, goats, even hamsters and horses (just adjust the dosage to fit their body size).
  • The garlic helps promote a healthy heart and the apple cider vinegar helps your pet with digestion
  • Cheaper than other flea prevention treatments
  • Chemical and toxin free, making it safer for your pet and your family
If you're not interested in trying the No-Flea Product, one last thing you could do would be to have your pet take an internal flea prevention medication. Although not the greenest option, it is safer for the children and other family members your pet will come in contact with so that they don't have to be exposed to the traditional toxic flea ointments by petting or being near the pet. So just something to keep in mind.

So now that you're skin is crawling, I know mine is as I try not to remember those flea-ridden days of the past, feel free to share your experiences with fleas. Has you dog or pets ever had them? How did you treat them? Do you have any natural treatments that worked for treatment or prevention? Share below and we can all learn and keep these little bugs away!

"Goodbye greenies and goodbye fleas!"

*Disclaimer: Obviously everyone's pet is different and what worked for me may not work for your pet. Check with your veterinarian to see if you think this will be a good fit for your pet. The good news is that it is so much safer than most other flea prevention treatments, so it should be safe for all pets. Last,  I purchased this product with my own money and this is my honest opinion of it.*

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