Health Superfoods for Your Family

Super Food Drinks

Super Foods are nutrient-packed, disease-fighting foods, many of which you probably have in your refrigerator or pantry right now. They aren’t unusual or difficult to find.

A lot of our customers have asked Nature Mom about the super foods that she uses, how she includes them in meals for the family, and how much she uses. Start where you are and add more foods over time.

Do you have a few of these around?

  • Dark berries
  • Dark greens
  • Nuts & seeds
  • Hot peppers
  • Raw cacao nibs
  • Honey

If you already have any of these on hand, you are ready to start adding health superfoods to your family meals. Add more dark greens to salads. Sprinkle seeds on many main dishes. Add hot peppers to your foods, if your family can handle them. Sweeten foods with honey. Add fresh or frozen berries to your cereal in the morning. There you go! You are a superfood super star.

Nature Mom’s Fast Food Breakfast

Nature Mom, owner of, eats fast food for breakfast. Shocking isn’t it? Well, hold on to your blenders, because it’s even faster food than you think. At least 2-3 mornings a week, when she is rushed, she has a super food smoothie.

NOTE: If you are nursing or pregnant, and there is anything that might be a concern, just leave it out. This recipe is really flexible, and she uses what she has in the fridge at the time.

Nature Mom Super Food Smoothie

1 cup of frozen berries (fresh is okay too, but frozen makes the smoothie taste colder)
2 handfuls of greens (I usually use spinach but cabbage, kale, Swiss chard also works)
1 large celery stalk
1-2 Tbsp nut butter of choice, I usually use Almond Butter (or Tahini for a nut-free version)
1-2 Tbsp hemp seeds
1 heaping Tbsp honey
1 Tbsp coconut oil
1 inch ginger, peeled
dash of cayenne pepper
3 cups of water

Put this all into a high powered blender. Blend and drink as you’re running out the door!

Optional superfood additions (I use them all):

A Month of Your Health Ideas

We’re devoting February to food and other ways our readers keep their families healthy. It’s the depth of winter and there are fewer fresh options, so it takes even more vigilance to eat fresh, healthy, whole foods. Comment here or jump over to Facebook and tell us how you keep your family healthy in the winter especially. We want to include your ideas.

Image © Tomislav Pinter |

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Save Money and Time by Cooking Meals from Scratch

Slow Cooker Meal Ingredients

I think a lot of parents struggle with cooking from scratch, especially if it’s not what they grew up with, but we are trying to do better for our own children. What do you do if stopping for pizza or cooking from frozen just seems like the only way to get dinner on the table tonight? Not only do processed meals contain ingredients that you want to avoid, they are a more expensive option than cooking from scratch with whole ingredients.

Freeze It
Understand first where you reach for a meal when you are in a time crunch or just too tired to start from scratch. Prepare in advance for that moment of weakness. To start, you need to think about the solution before tonight. When your will is strong and the kids are quiet (like that happens), plan ahead. Buy enough that you can make three times as much as you need. Eat the same food two nights in a row then freeze the rest for another meal later. You just put a bit more work into preparing one meal while you got three out. Think quantity, and work ahead.

Choose Convenience Tools Rather Than Convenience Foods
Buy a slower cooker and a bread machine. These should be on your baby registry. Experienced parents will understand.

If you wake up feeling like it might be one of those days, pull your saved leftovers out of the freezer and create some new kind of stew. Our favorite slow cooked meal is curry. You can hide a lot of vegetables in a mild curry that children will eat. Clean out the refrigerator or freezer and use what you have so it doesn’t go to waste (which, of course, saves you money). You do this in the morning, and you don’t have to think about it again until it is time to put on a pot of rice near dinnertime.

Fresh bread without fuss doesn’t mean using a mix. You can mix your own recipe in advance from whole ingredients to avoid expensive specialty mixes. Dump the ingredients in and hit the button. Kneading bread by hand feels great, but sometimes you aren’t into the process so much as focused on the result. It’s OK to do both.

Have a Back-up Easy Meal
My mother was a single parent who worked all day. We ate a lot of tv dinners. Sometimes, though, when she really wanted us to eat immediately, she opted for her favorite easy meal: egg sandwiches. It’s an omelet between slices of bread, and it takes about five minutes to prepare. If you have bread and eggs, you are set. My family’s quick meal is salad. We cut up all sorts of fresh vegetables and leftovers, toss it in a bowl, and call it salad. Know what your family is willing to eat and keep the fresh ingredients available.

Food: Discuss
We have had a great response to food discussions on the Parenting by Nature Facebook page recently, and, when we asked what you want to save money on, the answer was overwhelmingly FOOD! That’s why we followed Saving Money on Food with this post. You had a lot more great ideas, though, so during February we’ve scheduled a whole month of posts devoted to food and other ways our customers keep their families healthy naturally. Keep sharing your ideas and experience. Other parents can learn from you.

Image © Warren Price |

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Save Money on Household Cleaning

Save money on cleaning with natural products

Do you know how to ditch your $6 window cleaner for a natural $2 alternative? When you are saving pennies, those $4 count. If cost savings isn’t enough, those less expensive natural cleaners have far less environmental impact and they aren’t a safety hazard for curious children and pets.

Start with Water
Use water out of the tap on a reusable cloth. That will clean a lot of what passes for dirt in your house. Move up to boiling water when you need to.

Wipe Down Surfaces Daily
If you clean up the small messes, you won’t need so many expensive cleansers to clean up big messes. Wipe down surfaces as you go and pick up around you. It makes a difference in how you feel as well as maintaining a level of clean.

Don’t Buy Expensive Cleansers
While we’re on the subject, don’t buy those special cleansers for big jobs. Assess the mess and choose a natural cleaner from your own pantry instead. Check out our Clean Cleaning for the basics of cleaning with just 5 common ingredients: water, vinegar, baking soda, salt, and lemon. Buy the main ingredients, distilled white vinegar and baking soda, in large packages and you will save even more.

Buy or Make Reusable Pads for Mops
Good old string mops work, but you might not find them at your store. You can still use the flat style wet mops, but you don’t need to buy the throwaway pads. Make or buy your own reusable pads and wash them. It doesn’t even require sewing. Just choose an thick, absorbent, natural material like soft cotton sweatshirt material.

Image © Frannyanne |

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Save Money on Laundry

Pregnant woman drying laundry

If you have babies or young children, you know they leak in quite a few different ways. This leads to load after load of laundry all out of proportion to their size. This doesn’t have to blow up your budget. You can easily take simple steps to save money on laundry.

The costs to do laundry come from energy to run the washer and dryer, energy to heat the water, the water itself (or sewer bill), and detergent. Squeeze each of these separately, and keep in mind that you may need to adjust other parts of the process to get your laundry as clean as possible.

Reduce the Need
Start at the beginning. Wear your clothes a couple of times before you wash them. Reduce your laundry in half. This doesn’t work for snappy t-shirts covered in spit up or baby jeans after a leaky diaper, but some clothes can be worn multiple times.

Wash on Cold
By far the largest proportion of the cost of home laundry goes to the energy to heat the water. So, don’t heat the water. If you use cold water, though, you will save yourself from clothes covered with residue that holds on to stink if you use detergents formulated for cold. You need more agitation or longer rinse if you remove heat from the washing equation. If you are washing diapers, be extra careful to avoid residue build up.

Run Full Loads
A full load saves money because you end up with fewer loads total, but a full load also provides one of the essential parts of the laundry equation: agitation. The clothes need to rub against one another to get clean. If you put a couple of items in a full load, you are just sending them for a nice swim. They will be cleaner than when they started, but they won’t get clean. Adjust the water level to your load for effectiveness and water conservation, but hold on to that small load and wait for more clothes for cost savings on energy.

Use an Efficient Washer
This takes an investment up front, but you will save in the long run if your washer is the most energy efficient washer on the market.

Buy Powdered Laundry Detergent
Liquid detergent rinses easily, but you end up paying for bottled water. You can get the best of both by dissolving the correct amount of your powdered detergent before you wash. It takes more time, but it saves money. It’s all a matter of adjusting to which you have more of.

Make Your Own Laundry Detergent
High Efficiency washing machines require less detergent, so that is a start. You can also make your on laundry detergent and other laundry additives with a few basic and mostly natural ingredients.

But, be careful what you choose to use. If you are washing cloth diapers, make sure the ingredients you use don’t cause a residue build up on your diapers that will cause leaks. Just do research before you head off into the wild west of homemade cleaning supplies.

Use the Air to Dry
Don’t use extra energy to dry your clothes. Dry on a line. Without bumping against one another in the dryer, they end up a little bit more stiff, but you can roll them around in your hands to loosen them up. I also just saw this week a cool new contraption, Dryerpods, that essential puts a closed drying rack over your forced-air heating vent. Obviously, this would only work if you have forced-air heating (I do) and in the seasons when the heat is on, but it is a clever device to use what is already there more efficiently

Not a lot of money goes into laundry, but you can save by making the process more efficient.

Image © Sebastian Czapnik |

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Save Money on Baby Expenses

Baby with piggy bank savings

Having babies hits the budget hard, but you can lessen the impact through your choices. Did you know that it can cost more than $10,000 to raise your child for the first year and nearly that much each year after that? You might know this already as you see your bank account dwindling. You can stop that drain.

First, though, keep in mind that you should never skimp on health and nutrition. Give your children the healthy environment and the food that they need to reach their fullest potential. Keeping that in mind, get ready to squeeze.

Reassess Your Need
You will be told that you need piles and piles of branded baby goods, hospital add-ons, and processed foods. You don’t! Even using an average baby expense calculator will send you the message that you are missing out on a lot of stuff—stuff you just don’t need. Don’t let someone else tell you what you need. Sit down and decide what fits your lifestyle, and then squeeze your list a bit more. Do you need new? No. Do you need duplicates? No. Be realistic and frugal from the start.

Especially if you have a family member or close friend whose 1-2 year old child is just growing out of baby clothes, furniture, or toys, accept hand-me-downs. Set up a sharing system, and you can cut out most of your major baby expenses.

Save more than $1,000 a year by breastfeeding rather than buying formula. If your child has allergies, that formula expense could be several thousand dollars. Of course, you can eat through that savings quickly if you buy a breast pump and a nursing wardrobe, so only get what you really need. Some mothers don’t spend anything at all on breastfeeding. Breastfeeding without stuff can be done!

If you have more time than money, making your own simple baby clothes can result in big savings. Don’t over-buy fabric. Stick to a couple of patterns that work, and make them in several colors. Trace the patterns rather than cutting them, so you can use the next size up when you need it. Even if you only sew a simple blanket, think of the savings. No matter your skill level, you can make that skill work for you.

Cloth Diapers
Save $1,500-$2,500 over disposable diapers by choosing a simple cloth diapering option, like prefolds and covers. You know we love cloth diapers for all sorts of reasons, but cost savings just can’t be beat. You can cloth diaper without all of the stuff, too.

Just keep it simple. There will be a lot of advertising telling you that you need some new thing, but you probably don’t. Turn on your critical thinking, and stick with the basics for your baby.

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