My Favorite Baby Items

Decmber 2015 we were blessed with a brand new bundle of joy and our family couldn’t be happier! Our sweet little daughter has brought us tons of smiles and loads of laughter over the past 12 months, and along with filling our hearts with love, she has filled our house with lots of baby stuff!!

I’m very excited to share my very favorite ‘baby finds’ from my daughter’s 1st year! I have come across some fabulous vegan, hand made and eco-friendly products & companies that really stand out. And I only recommend products that I absolutely LOVE! So please feel confident supporting these companies and buying these items for your little nuggets! 

Let’s start with diapers! You know that you will need them, that’s a given. But the thought of throwing away dozens of diapers each week is kind of tough for me to deal with. Each year parents throw away 20 billion diapers. yep, 20 billion. that’s enough diapers to circle the globe 90 times. And guess how many years it takes for the average diaper to decompose? Um, 500 years! Is that crazy or what?

Disposable diapers are also very expensive, costing between $1400 and $2500 over 21/2 years. You can plan to spend between $300-$500 on reusable diapers.

My top pick for reusable diapers are Charlie Banana‘s 2 in 1 hybrid cloth diapers! They are free from yucky irritants and chemicals, they’re super comfortable and ridiculously adorable. But do they prevent leakage and actually work? Yes, these diapers are the cats meow and I am so very grateful to have discovered them.

The price of a 6 pack of Charlie Banana’s ranges from $120 to $140 for the organic ones. I opted for the organic version.

If you are new to cloth diapering, please don’t be nervous! This was my first time too and I caught on quickly. You will find step by step help on the Charlie Banana website and there are even youtube pages devoted to cloth diaper support.

I recommend a charlie Banana waterproof hanging diaper pail. This is where you will want to store all of your soiled diapers until you’re ready to wash them. They even sell a waterproof tote bag for holding dirty diapers on the go.

Aside from making amazing reusable diapers and accessories, Charlie Banana is a top notch company when it comes to paying it forward.

Some of the places they support include:

Operation Smile, an international medical charity providing free reconstructive surgeries to children suffering from cleft lip, cleft palate and other facial deformities.

Project Child Save, a non-profit organization dedicated to preventing kidnapping and child abductions.

Healthy Child Healthy World, an organization creating healthier environments for children.

Climate Action, a social enterprise which supports sustainable low carbon, and socially responsible consumer choices.

Please stop by CharlieBanana.com and also check them out on Facebook and Instagram.

If you are concerned about the yucky chemicals that may be lurking in your baby’s clothing (and you should be), you may want to opt for organic outfits. I have come across a fabulous company that was created by a fellow mom, Monica Royer. She wanted to make better clothes, with better fabrics, and I am so grateful that she did!

 Monica + Andy makes baby clothes and blankets that are certified organic, free of lead, phthalate and flame retardants. So you can feel confident that your little dumpling is not being wrapped in toxins. They offer sizes newborn through 5T.

Monica + Andy sells newborn footie pajamas, bodysuits, onesies, shirts, pants, blankets, cuddle boxes and the prettiest dresses that you have ever seen. In fact, I had my daughter’s 6 month portrait taken in a mint green ‘Little Belle Tulle Dress’. It was comfortable, breathable and oh so gorgeous!  Stop by their website to see the beautiful organic dresses, you will want to order one in every color! 

Follow Monica + Andy on Facebook & Instagram.

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Aside from organic dresses, every baby girl needs some sassy bows! I’ve spent quite a bit of time and money trying to find bows that are comfortable, beautiful and of good quality. Most bows I’ve found are too tight and fall apart. Luckily I stumbled upon a bow maker on Etsy who makes the greatest bow headbands on earth. The business is called ‘Your Final Touch’, and the owner is a stay at home mom with a passion for handmade creations.

Claudia creates hair accessories and clothing using amazing workmanship and quality. Her bows come in dozens of colors, and if you are like me, you will order again & again. Please show your support for this small business and Claudia’s handmade accessories! And her prices are incredibly affordable, so you can buy a variety of colors & styles! 

Check out Your Final Touch On Etsy

My daughter wore bows from ‘Your Final Touch’ for her 6 month and 1 year portraits.

I’m very excited to share a new, completely Vegan baby and toddler shoe company called ‘Baby N’Anya’. This 100% cruelty free company believes that babies should enjoy the comfort and support of soft sole shoes as they begin to walk. They also believe that animals should not have to die in order to create amazing shoes. Bravo! 

I can’t tell you how much I adore these shoes… but I’ll try! They are comfortable and don’t leave a red ring around my baby’s ankle. They are soft, adorable, and not leather! Baby N’Anya is a company that you WANT to support whole heartedly. There are many shoe companies that offer vegan options, but very few that do not exploit animals at all. 

My daughter has 2 pairs of Baby N’Anya shoes and I’ve received no less than a dozen compliments since she started wearing them. I highly recommend buying at pair or two! Stop by their website right now, they are offering 20% off for a limited time!

Also Check out Baby N’Anya on Facebook & Instagram

Last spring my daughter began eating solid baby food. I pride myself in homemaking most of what she eats, but when we’re on the go there is nothing easier than a baby squeeze pouch. With so many baby food pouches on the market, its not easy to know which ones are the best. I have done quite a bit of research and narrowed it down to what I feel are the best two baby food brands on the market. 

Ella’s Kitchen offers delicious baby food that my little munchkin loves. It’s USDA organic and free of GMO’s, additives, added salt & sugars. At the moment our favorite snack when we’re on the road are Ella’s Kitchen Nibbly Fingers. The ingredients include organic whole grain oats, organic malt extract, organic raisins, organic dried apples, organic dried pears, and organic dried strawberries. Delicious and healthy!

Check Out Ella’s Kitchen on Facebook & Instagram.

Once Upon A Farm baby food was created by a busy mom who wanted high quality, fresh, local, organic food for her child without having to spend all her time in the kitchen. Cassandra was unhappy with most of the baby food found on store shelves and felt that her daughter deserved better.

Once Upon A Farm makes their food using HPP or High Pressure Pascalization and sources local, organic, non-GMO ingredients from farmers that they know and trust. There are never added preservatives or sugars.

My daughter goes crazy for the mango pouch! It’s her absolute favorite! 

You can find Once Upon A Farm on Facebook & Instagram.

 

I hope you check out some of my favorite baby products and companies! Do you know of a fabulous product that is vegan, eco-friendly or handmade? Let me know about it!

My ‘Family Favorite’ Chickpea Salad

img_0928Chickpea salad is an easy, delicious & healthy meal, perfect for school lunches!

I make this recipe often, and it can be served on top of greens, with crackers, on a sandwich or straight out of the bowl!

Ingredients:

4 cups chickpeas

1/2 cup vegan mayo (I love ‘Just Mayo’)

3 tablespoons dijon mustard

1 teaspoon turmeric

4 Stalks celery, finely chopped

1 large carrot, finely chopped

1/2 yellow bell pepper, finely chopped

1/2 red onion, finely chopped

1/2 cup of dried cranberries

sea salt & freshly ground pepper to taste

Instructions:

Add chickpeas to a large bowl and mash with a potato masher. You want a sticky consistency while still leaving some whole chickpeas.

Add all other ingredients and mix well.

Enjoy!

 

 

Oatmeal Banana Blueberry Lactation Muffins

 

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As a nursing mother myself, I’ve been hearing a lot about lactation cookies. Becoming quite intrigued with them, I began to research exactly what is in these magical treats.

Two of the most beneficial ingredients to increase milk supply are believed to be brewers yeast & oatmeal. I did notice however that many of these seemingly healthy cookie recipes  were loaded with sugar! Up to TWO cups of sugar! Plus a full cup of butter and white flour. That’s dessert, not a snack. If  you want dessert, find one of those recipes, but if you want a plant based muffin that can energize your body and provide your baby with much needed nutrients, give my muffin recipe a try.

 

Oatmeal is full of fiber and is a great vegan source of iron. Maternal anemia is shown to result in a lower milk supply, which may be why some women struggle to produce enough milk. Oatmeal is also thought to create a relaxing affect  causing the body to release oxytocin which may help with letdown.

Brewers Yeast is a galactagogue herb, (aka an herb that increases milk supply in nursing mothers), and is considered safe for breastfeeding. it’s a good source of iron, chromium and selenium along with several B vitamins.

Coconut oil  is not only believed to increase milk supply, but it also produces fattier & more nutritious breast milk, as it contains high levels of lauric acid.

I understand that busy moms struggle to find time for baking, but I assure you that these muffins take only minutes to prepare and you can whip them up in one bowl. I make them them twice a week and my ten year old goes crazy for them!

As always, I encourage you to use organic ingredients if possible, especially while breastfeeding. 

Ingredients:

2 ripe bananas mashed

2 cups oats

1/2 cup whole wheat flour

1/2 cup almond flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

2 tablespoons brewers yeast

1 tablespoon ground flaxseed

1/2 cup fresh or frozen blueberries

1 tablespoon chia seeds

2 tablespoons coconut oil

1 1/2 cups almond milk

1/4 cup maple syrup

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 teaspoon cinnamon

powdered sugar optional

preheat oven ro 350 degrees

combine all ingredients except powdered sugar and pour into greased muffin pan.

Bake 25-30 min

sprinkle with a dusting of powdered sugar if desired

makes 12-14 muffins

Enjoy!

 

 

 

 

 

GuruNanda Essential Oil Diffuser

I have recently become quite a fan of diffusing essential oils. I use them for everything from cold & flu prevention to helping me fall asleep at night. For those of you who love 100 percent pure essential oils and diffusers as much as I do, you know they can be a bit pricey. I’ve been on the lookout for an essential oil bargain, and I got my hands on one!

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I offered to review a GuruNanda Essential Oil Diffuser kit which comes with two, 100% pure essential oils, lavender and peppermint. If you can believe it, the kit costs just under $20. No, I’m not kidding. Only thing is, it’s being offered exclusively at Walmart stores and you only have through November to get your hands on it. You better move quickly, they are selling out!

Here’s a quick review of my GuruNanda kit.

The diffuser is amazing! The mist is very strong and does not weaken the way my more expensive diffuser does. This diffuser fills a large room with heavenly aromatherapy and changes colors, which is quite beautiful!

The 100% pure lavender essential oil smells incredible and makes me feel calm & relaxed. I love diffusing it before bed.

The 100% pure peppermint essential oil is invigorating and perfect for the holiday season! And of course you can diffuse all of your favorite oils in this GuruNanda diffuser!

I highly recommend this product and I hope you add it to your holiday wish list this year!

 

The Squeeze Juice

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I have been lucky enough to come across an amazing company based in NYC., called ‘The Squeeze Juice’.

They offer fabulous cold pressed juices and raw meals and snacks as well. You can check out their website to order online or to find their locations.

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I tried out four of their rawlicious snacks and each one was healthy & more importantly, very tasty!

If you’re in the mood for a chocolate chip cookie, but not in the mood to eat lots of sugar, white flour and other unhealthy stuff…the ‘Tollhouse Nookie’ is the way to go. It makes a perfect midnight snack!

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I really enjoyed the Mac ‘N Cheese Kale Chips. The flavor was intense and you get the enjoyment of a chip without the guilt!

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The granola bites were great and I think kids especially will go crazy for these! They are bite sized and make a great on the go snack.

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Last but certainly not least I tried the FUNonion Rings.  OH MY GOODNESS…THESE ARE GOOD! I should have shared them with my kids, but once you eat one, you need to eat them all!

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So seriously, check out ‘The Squeeze Juice’!  Good for your health and even better for your tastebuds!

Vegan Golden Milk

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Many of you have probably heard about this spicy & delicious tonic that has been touted for healing everything from MS to cancer.
While I cannot tell you that it definitely does that, I will say that Golden Milk’s special ingredient is ‘turmeric’, which many natural health professionals say is a ‘super herb’.  Turmeric is believed to be very safe and has been a popular medicinal herb for centuries. Turmeric is a powerful anti-inflammatory and many people are using it for an array of health benefits.

Dr. James A. Duke, PHD. has discovered that Alzheimer’s Disease, Arthritis & Cancer  can all be prevented or alleviated by turning to turmeric instead of pharmaceutical drugs. Without side effects! Dr. Duke reviewed 700 studies on this amazing herb!

I have added a warm, relaxing mug of Golden Milk to my nightly routine and my daughter enjoys it with me. 🙂

Here is a simple and delicious Vegan recipe for Golden Milk.

1 1/2 cups coconut or almond milk

1 teaspoon organic ground turmeric

1 teaspoon organic cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon organic ground ginger

About a teaspoon of maple syrup (add a touch more if too spicy)

A dash of black pepper

A dash of cayenne pepper (if you can handle it)

Whisk it all up warm & frothy in a sauce pan and ENJOY!

Ava Anderson-Non Toxic

ava anderson Most of my readers are well aware that I am a huge supporter of a whole foods plant based diet, for the animals, the earth and of course, our health. You may not realize that I am also an advocate for safe & non-toxic cleaning and beauty products. I rid my home of all mainstream products about 8 years ago. Before that I had no idea the dangers I was posing upon my family in our own home. On a normal day I would be burning a Yankee Candle, spraying my windows with Windex, pouring carpet deodorizer before vacuuming and slathering toxic soap & lotions on my children. My head spins when I relive these actions in my mind. How could I possibly be so naive?  All the signs of toxic overload in our bodies were showing up. Chronic eczema, asthma, allergies, hives.. yep we were a mess. Of course back then I was also feeding my family 3 meals a day filled with animal products. So needless to say, ‘You live and you learn’.

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Over the years I have used dozens of ‘natural’ products. From all purpose cleaners to shampoo & sunscreen. I’ve purchased them all… The two problems I continued to encounter were, #1~many of these products simply did not work. My husband will vouch for the fact that almost every natural deodorant on the market is a waste of money. Seriously. I have smelled not too pretty. I’m not proud to say it, but hey, breast cancer is not a price I will ever be willing to pay. And YES, I do believe that most deodorant/antiperspirants (the yummy smelling ones, that make you smell amazing for 24 hours) do cause cases of breast cancer. Let’s face it, drenching  our under arms, near our precious lymph nodes, with aluminum, parabens and chemical fragrance, is never a good idea. The #2 issue with most ‘natural’ products is that many of them are simply ‘greenwashing’. In other words, they are not actually ‘green’ or ‘natural’. But these savvy companies know that when you put those 2 magic words on a product, we will fall for. I hate that they are right! I can’t tell you how many mom’s (and dad’s) buy these products and have no idea that they are filled with chemicals that are banned in other countries! Ugh!! Get mad! And more importantly stop buying these products!

These days I am exclusively using Ava Anderson Non-Toxic home & beauty products on myself and my family.avaSUN for office

Ava’s line is completely natural and non-toxic. Don’t believe me? Every ingredient is listed on each of her products. Nothing is hidden and there is absolutely NO GREENWASHING!! Her entire line is never tested on animals and ‘Ava Home’ & ‘Ava Body’ is Vegan. Score!!! Her products are even adored by the amazing ‘Kris Carr’! Need I say more??

In case you are wondering… Yes, I have joined the Ava team. Can you blame me? I would LOVE for you to support ‘The Vegan Mom’ by  stopping by my ‘Ava Anderson Non-Toxicpage and trying out some products! I would Love it even more if you decided to join my team. How much fun would that be?!avaConsultantGreen

The best thing is, the deodorant works!! All day!! deodorant single silo

Please ‘Like’ my Ava Anderson-Non Toxic Facebook page. I will be doing a giveaway at the end of February. By liking my Ava Facebook page, you will automatically be entered to win. You will be entered twice if you ‘Share’ my page on Facebook. Easy enough! More details will be coming on Facebook in February!

Read on and get educated about what is in most ‘other’ cleaning and personal care products. It’s scary, but we all need to know the truth!

avaBODY 10 piece set image Did You Know: that Europe bans 1,371 toxic chemicals from their personal care products and the US bans only 11? the FDA does not regulate the personal care products industry and hopes that cosmetic companies will do their due diligence and issue safe products? “safe”, “organic” and “natural” does not mean your products do not contain any toxic chemicals as well? 1 in 2 men and 1 in 3 women will get cancer in their lifetime, 1 in 68 children and 1 in 42 boys are identified with autism spectrum disorder in the US, and that Alzheimers is up 500% in the past 20 years? according to the President’s Cancer Panel only 10% of cancer is genetic and 90% is caused by environmental factors? that your personal and home care products (from shampoo to antibacterial wipes to makeup) contain carcinogenic ingredients, neurotoxins, endocrine disruptors and allergens that could be downright hazardous to your health?

Know Your Backside! Read your labels and avoid the following chemicals: FRAGRANCE can be legally hidden in hundreds of ingredients in “fragrance” or “parfum”: a “trade secret” in the industry. More than 75% of the time if you have fragrance, you have legally hidden phthalates (THAL ates), known endocrine disruptors, that are linked with birth defects, breast cancer, infertility, liver, cancer, diabetes, obesity, and now with autism and ADHD in pregnancy by Dr. Philip Landrigan, Mt Sinai, Children’s Environmental Health Center. PARABENS: Preservatives linked to breast cancer, endocrine disruption, reproductive toxicity, and developmental defects.

California Study (10/11) of BPA and methylparaben combination turned healthy cells into cancer cells, and rendered tamoxifin ineffective. TRICLOSAN: is the active ingredient in “anti-bacterial” products, is registered with the government as a pesticide, and is a known endocrine disruptor. Triclosan is believed to disrupt thyroid function and contribute to liver and inhalation toxicity. OXYBENZONE and OCTINOXATE: (and other chemical sunscreen “active ingredients”) are UV ray filters that are also known endocrine disruptors. PETROLATUM & TETROLEUM INGREDIENTS: endocrine disruptors and carcinogens.

IMPORTANT NOTE: ALL SIX OF THE ABOVE ARE “ENDOCRINE DISRUPTORS” and are in many products that you use daily – and some will have multiples! They are important to avoid, because the endocrine system regulates ALL biological processes in the body: development of the brain and nervous system, growth and function of the reproduction system, metabolism and blood sugar levels, ovaries, testes, pituitary, thyroid and the adrenal glands. (Natural News) The World Health Organization and the UN recently released a report that called endocrine disruptors a “Global Threat.” Small amounts matter, especially to the developing fetus. PEG’s (polyethylene glycol) are petroleum byproducts. During manufacturing process carcinogenic contamination is created: 1,4 dioxane, which is a known human carcinogen, with liver and kidney effects. SODIUM LAURYL SULFATE (SLS) and sodium laureth sulfate (SLES) are considered carcinogens. SLES is something contaminated with 1,4 dioxane. You will never see 1,4 dioxane on a label, as companies are not required to list carcinogenic contaminants. INGREDIENT THAT ENDS IN “-eth”: like ceteareth, triceteareth, etc. Also carry the contamination concern for 1,4 dioxane. IMPORTANT NOTE: all THREE of the above ingredients carry carcinogenic contaminant concerns created during manufacturing of 1,4 dioxane.

The government allows 10 ppm (parts per million) in any one products, but no one is testing. 1,4 dioxane can be stripped for pennies, and must be done for any product exported to EU. RETINYL PALMITATE: in the presence of sunlight enhances skin cancer lesions by 21% (FDA, 2011 Report). It is in many sunscreens and moisturizers. NANOPARTICLES: can cross the cell barrier and drive into organs, including the brain in humans. There is no way of knowing particle size, unless stated on the label. EU manufacturers must list any nanoparticles. ALUMINUM and metals: these are bio-accumulative, meaning they store in your fat cells and accumulate, and are very hard to get rid of, in many deodorants. DIETHANOLOMINE (DEA) and COCAMIDE DEA, LAURAMIDE DEA: DEA reacts with other ingredients to become the extremely carcinogenic nitrosodiethanolamine. Beware of other ethanolamines like triethanolamine (TEA) and monoethanolamine (MEA). FORMALDEHYDE RELEASERS – DIAZOLIDINYL UREA, DMDM HYDANTOIN, QUATERNIUM: found in most personal care products. Formalydehyde can cause allergic reaction, dermatitis, join pains and headaches, cancer and immune dysfunction. SYNTHETIC COLOR/DYES: made from coal tar, which is a mixture of many chemicals, derived from petroleum.

These colors may be contaminated with low levels of heavy metals and some are combined with aluminum substrate. Aluminum compounds and many heavy metals are toxic to the brain. ie. FD&C Blue 1, Green 3, Yellow 5 & 6, Red 33. GLYCOL (propylene, butylenes, etc): synthetic petrochemical mix known to cause allergic and toxic reactions. Has been linked to cancer, developmental/reproductive issues, neurotoxicity and endocrine disruption. MINERAL OIL: a petroleum ingredient that coats the skin like plastic wrap, disrupting the natural immune barrier, inhibitin its ability to breathe and absorb natural moisture and nutrition, and its ability to release toxins, which can promote acne and other disorders. The process slows down skin function and normal cell development causing premature aging. TALC: in the same family as asbestos, talc is dangerous to inhale and has been linked to ovarian cancer. SILOXANES: cyclomethicone and ingredients ending in “siloxane” (e.g., cyclopentasiloxane) are toxic, persistent, and have the potential to bioaccumulate. The EU classifies some as endocrine disruptors and possible reproductive toxicant that may impair fertility. Research shows some to cause uterine tumors and harm to the reproductive and immune systems. Some siloxanes can also influence neurotransmitters in the nervous system. Cyclomethicone is a mixture of three siloxanes. A big thank you to Ava Anderson Non-Toxic for this information.

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