How I Learned to Cook Whole Foods

Undiet Book

It’s my favourite time of year! I love these months filled warm weather, swimming, biking, soaking up the sunshine, farmers markets, backyard vegetable gardens, camping, cottaging, and more. With the energy of the summer and the availability of fresh fruits and vegetables galore, I wanted to share with you something I’ve been very excited about.

Confession time – I did NOT know how to cook whole, real foods before taking a handful of live and in person cooking classes from Meghan Telpner, a Toronto-based nutritionist, a few years ago. Brought up on Chef Boyardee and Kraft Dinner, my family had a challenging few years when we learned of our children’s allergies from diary, gluten, soy, eggs, corn and more. We know many families are struggling with similar stories, and Meghan came along right when I needed her most. If you’re unable to join her in the kitchen for a live class, her online courses and now her recently released book, are the next best thing!

In her new book UnDiet, Meghan proves it’s possible to look and feel your absolute best while eating the most delicious food, and avoiding the trap of diet deprivation and calorie counting. Infused with her signature humor, enthusiasm, and accessibility, Meghan inspires readers to question paradigms and take ownership of their health, one small change at a time. Best of all, these are recommendations that fit your life. Nothing in here is too over the top. These are easy changes for any family to incorporate into their already hectic and busy lifestyles.

I strongly encourage you to add UnDiet: Eat Your Way to Vibrant Health to your summer reading list. You won’t regret it! As an added treat - order your copy of UnDiet from before the end of July and we’ll include a FREE Anointment Natural lip balm with your purchase! This is our favourtie handmade lip balm, and we’ve just received a new shipment of samples to share. Happy Summer!

Tamara Champion, Founder
Parenting By Nature

I Am Loving Cocoon Apothecary – Review

Woman looking at rose hips

Natural skincare products are the clear choice, but which ones? To save you trying a bunch of different brands, I want to tell you about Cocoon Apothecary.

Yesterday I spent the evening with a friend I haven’t seen much for a while. When I mentioned my upcoming birthday, she said, “I want to say something, but I don’t want to offend. I just need to ask. You look younger than last time I saw you. How is that possible?”

Wow. How could that possibly offend? I came up with two possibilities: I’ve been working out, and I’ve started using a new line of skincare products. She said, “It’s your skin. Tell me about these products.” So, together we looked up Cocoon Apothecary, and she made me show her the exact products I’m using.

I have noticed a difference. I knew I was going to be writing about it this morning, so I’ve been asking myself each day what I think of each step in my skincare routine. That my friend said what she did yesterday is just happy coincidence, and it convinces me that what I’m seeing isn’t just my own wishful thinking. My skin is smooth and not dry even a full day after applying Cocoon products.

After writing about Cocoon Apothecary and my dry skin a few months ago, Nature Mom sent me samples to try. I wanted to follow up with a review of the products.

I’ve been using Jason Natural C-Effects products for years, and I do quite like them. This is specifically an “anti-aging” line. Do you see where I’m going with this? No one ever told me how young I looked when I used Jason. I haven’t loved the changes to their formulas, but I’ve kept using it. I used to love the smell, but it’s far more chemical now. Still, it worked better with my skin than other products I tried. But, this last winter I had terribly dry skin. Nothing worked to keep it from getting flaky. I resorted to using straight olive oil on my skin for most of the winter.

Until I tried Cocoon Apothecary.

Reading about Cocoon for the March “Winter Dry Skin” post, I just loved their philosophy and their open list of natural ingredients. Now that I’ve tried the products for a while, I love the products as well as the philosophy.

Petal Purity Facial Cleanser

This is my least favorite, because my skin doesn’t feel clean when I use this. It is applied on dry skin then rinsed off. I think I’m using it right, but I just don’t feel clean afterward. I have continued to use my Body Shop soap. I won’t be buying more of this. It was just the product that came in the sample, so I plan to try a different Cocoon Apothecary cleanser.

Rose Dew Facial Toner

After cleaning my skin, I just close my eyes and spritz this on. I go about my business for a few minutes, and the toner has done its work. It tightens without drying, which is a big help when drying is my biggest issue. No more rubbing on. I love that. The smell is rosey. More on that below.

Rosey Cheeks Facial Cream

My favorite product is the moisturizer. My goal is always to find lotion and other moisturizers that give a lot of moisture without leaving a greasy feeling or a waxy film. I get neither with this cream. It is thick, but it absorbs completely without leaving any unpleasant feel.

My one problem is the smell of both the Rose Dew Facial Toner and the Rosey Cheeks Facial Cream. They smell like roses. Some deep down memory tells me that roses smell like old women and funerals. When I’m using anti-aging skin products anyway, the last thing I want is to smell like someone’s grandmother. I asked my family if I smell like roses generally, and they said no. I made each of my children smell my face very closely after I had applied the facial cream about 8 hours before, and they did say they smell roses, but that it is faint. It’s a strong smell when it goes on. I miss the creamsicle smell of Jason, but I’m willing to give it up when my friends tell me I look younger than I did years before.

The most important difference I see between my old skincare products and my new favorites is that one just replaces moisture and the other also nourishes the skin. The Rosey Cheeks Facial Cream includes Rosehip Oil (trans-retinoic acid, which is likely one of the reasons for my younger-looking skin), Rose Absolute (not vodka but an antioxidant), Shea Butter, Avocado Oil, and Green Tea Oil. Intellectually, sure I know this is going to help, but seeing the change is still surprising.

Big thanks to Nature Mom for the Cocoon Apothecary Starter Kit. I’m hooked, and I’m planning my big order for more. I will be trying Rosehip Oil Facial Scrum. I’m actually excited about it. I’m not one to talk about cosmetics usually, but these cosmetics are different. If you are looking for not just natural ingredients but a nourishing skin care routine, try Cocoon Apothecary. Plus, they are Made in Canada, and I know that matters to a lot of our customers.

Image © Cynoclub |

The Story of Broke

The Story of Broke is the new, short film from Annie Leonard’s The Story of Stuff Project. The Story of Stuff looked at the production and disposal of the stuff in our lives and the happiness it doesn’t bring us. The new movie is meant to stimulate thinking about how to pay for economic changes that support greater happiness through education, healthcare, and renewable energy and less propping up of the stuff economy.

Critiques of the movie are saying that it is simplistic, but I think it is just simple. It is meant to be an introduction that stimulates a new way of thinking. It isn’t a new way of thinking to everyone, but it is not the mainstream way of thinking, and her films are all meant just to start the broader thinking about possibilities. A lot of the stuff of our lives is so familiar that we don’t think about why we use it, how it got here, and where it goes when we are done. A 20-minute cartoon about trash might just give us a little ah-ha moment that encourages us to dig deeper. This new 8-minute movie is just an eco baby step on our way to thinking differently.

One of my favorite things about the movies from The Story of Stuff Project are the resources behind each film. Not only do they provide an annotated script for each film, they have curriculum resources for every age. If you have very young children, you might enjoy watching Loop Scoops videos with them. These are very short videos made in conjunction with PBS Kids to explore simple, age-appropriate aspects of stuff like juice boxes, Velcro, magazines, and happiness.

Annie Leonard and her project are U.S.-based, but the general pattern of how to shift to renewable energy and economies that prioritize—or even just recognize—happiness as a desired goal apply to every one of us.

Big Green Picture, Big Green Plan

Simply Going GreenBottled water, plastic bags, energy audit, and heat leaks. All easy ways to start making your life more sustainable. These suggestions come from “The Simple Things First,” the first chapter in Simply Going Green, an e-book produced by blogger Kaayla Canfield from the Simply Going Green blog.

Review. Kaayla Canfield, Simply Going Green in Three Years or Less, Kaayla Canfield Publishing, 2008.

Simply Going Green contains primarily Canadian resources but helps anyone to ask enough questions about sustainable lifestyle in order to begin to answer big questions for themselves. The book itself doesn’t ask or address big picture, such as WHY we need to green our lives, but the Foreward from Dave Bronconnier, the Mayor of Calgary begins to. These personal actions encouraged by the book, he writes, are a necessary step toward responsible stewardship. “Choose the actions that best fit your circumstance and create your own three-year green plan to make a difference. Every step you take will reduce our ecological footprint and brighten our future.”

The author herself seems to see the book as a kind of workbook toward that 3-year plan. She left a space next to each item suggesting that readers check off what they are already doing then mark 1, 2, and 3 for items they can do in the next three years. Having marked up the book, the reader has a plan to go green.

Unfortunately, in order to mark each item, you will need to print the book, which quite defeats the purpose of a low-impact e-book.

As an academic, I have a lot of books on paper, a lot of printed research, but I’ve become better over the past 20 years at keeping more of my information in digital format. Especially if I am reading about how to lower my overall environmental impact, I’m less likely to print even in order to use as intended.

Despite this major flaw in the book, I find it very helpful to look over another person’s idea of the most important steps to green one’s life. Though, when it comes down to it, what constitutes a sustainable life includes a lot of personal values. For me, for example, labor must always be considered, which is why fair trade chocolate is now my only chocolate. What sustainable values guided this author’s choices? That isn’t clear.

Most of the book I found a good, general reminder of excellent steps to take. The chapter on children, “Our Precious Little Ones,” was very disappointing, though. So much could and should be said about why parents make the environmental choices they do for their children, and how parents can begin to sort through implications of their choices. Unfortunately, this section is unlike other sections of the book that do help the reader think through choices. The chapter on children ends up being is a shopping guide with web addresses. “[H]armful chemicals and pesticides,” she writes, “may be found in everything from our food, baby bottles, and toys to the diaper they wear.” What harmful chemicals? How do we find them? How should knowing this shape our choices? Follow the links to stores to find out.

Overall, the book is more checklist than guide.

If you are looking for the big, green picture, you will need to provide this yourself. If you are looking for a helpful, simple guide to first steps—steps that could lead you to create your own green family plan—you will find that in Simply Going Green.

Throughout March we will offer guides to getting started with some of the basic practices of attachment parenting and sustainable living. This is Environmental Living Week with tips, products, resources, and personal experiences.