Product Review and Giveaway: Out of Africa Shea Butter Body Kit

100% Pure Unrefined Raw & Wild Crafted Shea Butter

100% Pure Unrefined Raw & Wild Crafted Shea Butter

The Out of Africa Shea Butter Body Kit comes with a full-sized version of their body lotion, whipped body butter, body wash, bar soap and includes a bonus tin of Shea Butter.  You can choose between three scents: Verbena, Lavender or Vanilla. Besides being a great deal, all of the products use 100% natural ingredients. They contain no parabens or sulfates and are vegan and eco-friendly.  A portion of each sale is contributed to help provide medical care and education to the children in West Africa.

Shea Body Lotion

Shea Body Lotion

I chose the Verbena scent and it is exactly what I expected and hoped for, albeit a little strong. I’m not used to scented body products and my husband noticed every time I used it, especially the lotions.

The Verbena scent is the perfect wake-me up for your senses.  A quick shower with the body wash in the morning leaves me invigorated and ready to go.  A little Verbena hand lotion in the afternoon is like a cup of coffee that gives me one last push.  I did have to stop using the body butter at bed time, however, because the citrus-y scent was too stimulating at the end of the day.  I imagine the lavender would be the perfect scent for my night stand.

Whipped Body Butter

Whipped Body Butter

I live in a high desert climate, so the whipped body butter has gotten the most use so far.  I wasn’t expecting it to be so thick, since it comes in a tube and not a tub, but it is definitely a body butter and not a lotion.  A little goes a long way, which means you don’t have to use too much to get moisturized. The body lotion is a lighter version that is great after hand-washing.

Shea Body Wash

Shea Body Wash

The body wash is non-drying but also non-lathering.  If you’re the kind of person who prefers sudsy soap, this isn’t for you.  If you prefer all natural, gentle body wash with a great scent, I recommend it. Likewise, the bar soap is gentle and enriched with 20% unrefined Shea Butter.

Bar Soap

Shea Butter Bar Soap

I have used Shea Butter in the past, but hadn’t looked into it’s properties.  It naturally contains Vitamins A, E and F, fatty acids and is non-comedogenic.  It contains a high level of cinnamic acid which makes Shea butter a natural sunscreen with SPF 6-10, depending on the source. The Shea Butter used in Out of Africa’s products is sourced in West Africa.

Shea Butter Tin

Shea Butter Tin

The bonus tin of Shea Butter is a nice addition to the body kit and is great to have on hand for rough elbows, cracked skin, or patches of eczema.  You can also purchase raw, unrefined Shea Butter from their website in bulk for making your own body products.

The body kit, individual products and more can be purchased on the Out of Africa website, or you can use the Green Baby Guide Affiliate Link and help support our blog!

Out of Africa Shea Butter Body Kit Giveaway!

Out of Africa Shea Butter Body Kit

Out of Africa Shea Butter Body Kit

Just in time for Mother’s Day, we’re giving away one Out of Africa Shea Butter Body Kit in your choice of scent: Verbena, Lavender or Vanilla.

You can enter our giveaway up to five times, and the last day of entry is Tuesday, April 28th, 2015. Entries must be received by midnight, PDT. Contest is open to US residents only.

Each comment counts as a single entry:

  1. Simply post a comment about which scent you’ll choose if you win: Verbena, Lavender or Vanilla
  2. Share any greenbabyguide.com blog post on FB and let us know which one you shared
  3. Follow The Green Baby Guide on Twitter (and tell us about it in another comment)
  4. Like Out of Africa on Facebook and let us know in the comments
  5. Visit Out of Africa and leave a comment here about what other products interest you

Little Lotus Kickstarter to Help Vulnerable Infants in Developing Countries

Embrace Warmer

Embrace Warmer

It’s easy to take for granted the tools we have in the US to care for premature and at risk babies. For example, there isn’t a hospital in this country that doesn’t have an incubator to help underweight babies regulate their body temperature.

In developing countries, hospitals don’t always have enough incubators, or even the electricity to run an incubator. While I don’t know this fact for certain, I can only imagine that small or remote villages don’t have an incubator handy for premature babies or low weight babies at risk of hypothermia.

Little Lotus Swaddle

Little Lotus Swaddle

We just heard about an amazing product to replace incubators in places where they are not available: the Embrace Warmer. It doesn’t require constant electricity, is portable and reusable. Developed using the same material NASA uses for spacesuits, the Embrace Warmer looks like an advanced swaddling contraption that keeps the baby from becoming too hot or too cold. The technology works by drawing away excess heat if the baby starts to get too warm then releasing it if he starts to cool down.

Little Lotus started a Kickstarter Campaign on April 14th, to roll out a line of baby products including a swaddle, sleeping bag and blanket made with the same proprietary material used in the Embrace Warmer. Much like the Tom’s Shoes One For One mission, for every Little Lotus product purchased, an Embrace Warmer will be donated to a baby in need. Since it is reusable up to 50 times, not just one baby will benefit from this donation.

Little Lotus Sleeping Bag

Little Lotus Sleeping Bag

If you’re not familiar with Kickstarter Campaigns, this is how they work: You pledge a certain amount of money to your chosen campaign to help fund the project, which can be anything from a movie or book to a product like the Embrace Warmer. If the campaign reaches its funding goal by the deadline set, your pledge is collected and the creators move forward with the project. After the project is complete, everyone that has pledged money receives a reward in return. Many campaigns offer tiers of donations, and the more you donate the more you get at the end.

Little Lotus Cozy Blanket

Little Lotus Cozy Blanket

For the Little Lotus Kickstarter Campaign, you can pledge anywhere from $5-$10,000 dollars. If you’re hoping to receive a Little Lotus Cozy Blanket, 2 Swaddles or 2 Sleeping bags in exchange for your donation, expect to pledge $125 (they will be retailing at $150). If their funding goal of $98,000 is reached by May 29, 2015, the product development will move forward and you will receive your reward in late summer.

As a bonus, if Little Lotus reaches its goal by the end of May, we’re going to host a giveaway for one of 3 Little Lotus swaddles, sleeping bags or blankets. We encourage you to check out Embrace Warmer, Little Lotus and their Kickstarter page to learn more!

Why Choose Cacao Over Cocoa?

"The Nourishing Food That Aids Digestion"

“The Nourishing Food That Aids Digestion”

They come from the same plant and look the same when powdered, but are Cacao and Cocoa the same thing?  Both are derived from the dried and fermented seed that comes from the Theobroma cacao tree, from which we also get cocoa butter. Are there any other differences?

Cacao beans naturally contain fiber, sulfur, essential fatty acids and minerals such as iron, magnesium, copper, and zinc.  They also contain  phenylethylamine and anandamide, which keep you alert and make you feel happy.

Cacao and cocoa powder rate high on the ORAC (Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity) scale, often being scored in the top 10, which means it is a good source of antioxidants.  Like most “nutrient powerhouses”, the more processing done to the cacao beans, the less benefits they retain.

Cacao

Worth the money?

Worth the money?

Technically speaking, cacao is the seed (often referred to as a bean) from the Cacao Tree (or Cocoa tree, depending on who you’re asking).  The seeds are fermented and dried out before being processed further.

Raw cacao powder is a rather misleading term, because the cacao beans are not actually “raw”.  First the seeds are fermented, then they are roasted, then the cocoa butter is removed (hopefully through a cold-press process rather than a heat-based process) then it’s ground into powder.  The lower the temperature of the roasting, the more nutrients are retained.

Cacao nibs are small bits of cacao beans that have not gone through further processing beyond roasting and chopping. This means that, unlike cacao powder, the nibs contain cocoa butter.

Cocoa

Same difference?

Same difference?

Unsweetened cocoa powder has not necessarily undergone more processing than its cacao counterpart, despite what some websites say.  Some manufactures roast the cacao at a higher temperature than others, which can remove some of its nutritional benefits. Unfortunately, it’s impossible to know just by looking at the powder or the packaging what the roasting temperature is and it’s not information that is shared on their websites either. Roasting at a higher temperature does remove more of the cocoa butter, so a lower caloric content per gram is one indication that it was processed at a higher temperature.

Dutch processed cocoa powder has most definitely gone through more processing, since that is how the natural acidity of the cocoa powder is neutralized.

Well?

Based on my research, there are no conventions or requirements for labeling roasted, ground cacao seeds as “cacao powder” versus “cocoa powder”.  If you’re hoping for powder with the highest nutrient content and the least amount of processing, look for a high fat content and the term “cold pressed”, and skip the “dutch processed” variety.

Have you come to similar conclusions about the cacao vs. cocoa debate, or do you have information I missed in my research?

Product Review: Mary’s Gone Crackers

Mary’s Gone Crackers Review

Mary’s Gone Crackers, started by Mary Waldner, sells organic, gluten free, kosher, non-GMO, nut-free and vegan crackers, “twigs” and cookies. If you’re hosting a get-together, you can rest assured that even your special-diet guests will be able to enjoy Mary’s Gone Crackers products.

Chocolate Chip Cookies

marys-chocolate-chip-cookiesI recently had the opportunity to try her chocolate chip cookies, which somehow managed taste buttery while using no dairy ingredients at all. They are to overly crumbly or too dense like lots of gluten free cookies and have a good texture, taste and consistency. They are not low in fat. Two cookies have 15% of your daily saturated fat intake but they are chock full of wholesome nutritious ingredients like chia seeds, carob powder and organic dark chocolate. Which is good because I was not able to stop at two.

Black Pepper Crackers

Marys-black-pepper-crackers
Our family also tried her black pepper crackers. Health-wise, these crackers are pretty unassailable. Organic brown rice, organic quinoa, flax seeds are the main ingredients. Low in fat and high in fiber too. The black pepper is a nice kick but not overwhelming at all. My three year old didn’t even complain that they were spicy like he usually does with black pepper flavored foods. The crackers go well with cheese but can also stand alone as a quick nutritious snack. Overall, the consensus in our home is a thumbs up!

And The Glob Colors Face Paint Winner Is…

Congratulations to Candace!  You have won a set of Glob Colors Face Paint!

Non-Nano Face Paint

Non-Nano Face Paint

Thank you to everyone that entered the giveaway.  Stay tuned for more opportunities in the next few weeks!

GLOB uses all natural pigments from a variety of different fruits, vegetables, flowers, and herbs such as beets, purple carrots, turmeric, cabbage, and chlorophyll. The cruelty-free, natural face paint does not contain titanium dioxide, synthetic dyes, petro-chemicals, or phthalates and is paraben and talc-free.

You can find other Glob Paints that aren’t just for faces, and more information on their website.

If you didn’t win and would still like your own set of Glob Colors Face Paint, click on the affiliate link and support The Green Baby Guide while you are at it!

Garden to Table with Kids

Winter garden plantingSpring has sprung and now is the perfect time to get your hands in the dirt!  Whether you are ready to commit to a full garden or just a planter or two of flowers, gardening is a great activity for the whole family.  The more involved your kids are with food production, the more they are likely to try something new.  The phenomenon of planting seeds or seedlings and watching them gown into vegetables can spark the curiosity of even the pickiest of eaters.

Re-Grow Kitchen ScrapsIMG_20150404_145426 (1)

Next time you’re cooking a meal, consider re-growing some of the ingredients instead of tossing the scraps in the trash.  Depending on where you live, you might not have luck getting your avocado pit to turn into a fruit-bearing tree, but it can still be fun and educational to watch the seed turn into a plant.

Just last week I put my pineapple top in water to see what happens.  Next on my list is to plant some Meyer lemon seeds and see if I can get them to sprout in my climate.

Planters

41oRG0uK3uL._SL160_Committing to a full garden might not fit into your plans right now, but putting a few seedlings in a planter is definitely doable. Let your kids pick out a few seedlings and get their hands in the dirt while filling the planter with some easy to grow container vegetables.  There won’t be too many weeds to pick, and watering and weeding the planter can be a daily outdoor activity.

Raised Beds

51QEMWliTJL._SL250_Once you’ve tried your hand at growing a few crops in a planter, you might be ready to commit to a raised garden bed.  You can build one yourself or order one from Amazon. You’ll have more space to try out different crops and can easily intall an irrigation system.  Check out the Farmer’s Almanac to see what will grow best in your area for the best results.

Farmers Markets

LandscapeNot everyone has the inclination, space, or time to grow their own food.  Visiting your local farmers market is a great way to introduce your kids to the people who grow their food. Check out the USDA’s Local Food Directory or Local Harvest to find a Farmers Market near you.

 

 

Local FarmsLandscape

Even more than a farmers market, a local farm shows your kids where and how the food they eat is produced.  Especially in the spring and fall, many small farms have visitor days  and events when you can come and see the plants and animals in action.

 

 

Book Review: Broken Homes & Gardens

broken-homes-and-gardensWhen Rebecca and Joy started The Green Baby Guide blog in 2007, they were busy compiling all their best green and frugal tips into a handy book at the same time: The Eco-nomical Baby Guide: Down-to-Earth Ways for Parents to Save Money and the Planet.

Eight years later, Rebecca is long past her daughter’s baby days (though her frugality and eco-consciousness remain) and is on the verge of publishing another book.  Her first novel, Broken Homes & Gardens, is already available for pre-order on Amazon and will be released on April 28.

When I first read the blurb, “When Harry Met Sally for the Millennial generation…” I thought, “We’ll see about that!”  Well, it certainly is – and in the best possible way!  I was so absorbed in the will-they-won’t they plot I read it in one day.  Or course, when I’m exclusively breastfeeding I tend to read a lot of novels.

There are times when life calls for serious reads that challenge your intellect or encourage you to reevaluate your belief system.  And then there are times when all you want is to be entertained.  That’s not to say that the characters in Rebecca’s book don’t face their own troubles and serious choices.  Joanna, the main character, has her fair share of commitment issues, especially when it comes to Malcolm.

I would recommend Broken Homes & Gardens to anyone looking for a beach read or a distraction from work or life. And for anyone that is a fan of Rainbow Rowell’s books, Rom-Coms (books or movies) or that is looking for some entertainment after the TV season ends in May.

If you’re looking for a quirky, modern romance, give Broken Homes & Gardens a read!  For more reviews about Rebecca’s latest book as well as my official review, head on over to Good Reads.

Fun With April Fools

gbgaprilfools2015

What are Prebiotics?

Source: Exhibit Health

Source: Exhibit Health

Prebiotics

Over the past few years, we’ve been inundated with information about probiotics and why they are so good for us. It’s hard to find anyone who doesn’t eat yogurt these days, “so they get their probiotics”.  From baby probiotic drops, to keifer, to capsules, making sure you’re getting enough probiotics has become part of a normal lifestyle.

Now I’ve been starting to see buzz around prebiotics. I’ve noticed packaged food claiming to have added prebiotics that make them even healthier than before!

So, what are prebiotics?  Consider it fuel for the probiotics.  The healthy bacteria, fungi and other organisms that make up your gut microbiome need food too, and some consumables are more beneficial for the prebiotics than others.  Healthier probiotics in your intestines and colon mean improved digestion and mineral absorption.

Dietary fibers are considered prebiotics because they are not digested in the small intestine, but rather make their way to your large intestine and colon where they are consumed by probiotics. It turns out that when our parents told us to “eat our roughage”, they were actually encouraging us to eat prebiotics!

Chicory Root "Coffee"

Chicory Root “Coffee”

After doing a little research, I was surprised to learn that chicory root is one of the highest sources of prebiotic dietary fiber Inulin. I wonder if our ancestors realized how beneficial it was to be drinking their chicory root coffee when the real stuff wasn’t available.  Not only was it contributing to healthy digestion, it helped get rid of internal parasites like intestinal worms.

If you’re not into drinking Chicory Root Coffee, you can buy Inulin powder and start adding it to your smoothies, oatmeal or other foods. Same with Jerusalem Artichoke Powder
or Dandelion Greens.

Other sources of prebiotics include garlic, onions, asparagus, wheat bran, whole wheat flour and bananas.

Do you include prebiotics in your diet?  What’s your preferred source?

 

Product Review and Giveaway: Glob Colors Face Paint

Non-Nano Face Paint

Non-Nano Face Paint

Glob Natural Non-Nano Face Paint

My kids were thrilled when the box containing face paint from Glob Colors arrived in the mail. They knew it meant I would be forced to paint their faces, which they had been inexplicably begging me to do for some time. I was pleased to discover that Glob Colors seemed to be truly “all natural”. Their website lists such delightful ingredients as purple carrots, red cabbage, chlorophyll and gardenia fruit among others. This plus the fact that they are free of many of the toxic chemicals found in conventional face paints such as titanium dioxide and are cruelty free sealed the deal for me. I was excited to paint some squirmy, sticky faces.

facepaintI chose my youngest daughter’s 5th birthday party guests as my test subjects. There were only 3 guests, so it wasn’t going to be too hard, or so I thought. One of the girls wanted a lot of blue on her face, so that was easy as one of the colors in the paint kit was a beautiful blue. Two of the kids then asked for rainbows on their cheeks. The colors in the Glob kit were not exactly “rainbow” material, they seemed more like “earth colors”, aside from the blue. I attempted to mix the colors in an effort to get green and orange only to end up with a sort of “terra cotta” rainbow springing from a white cloud. The kids were just excited to have their faces painted so I let it go, only to discover an hour later when the paint dried it turned into a vibrant, traditionally colored rainbow! The paints were no easier or harder to mix than regular face paints.

Natural Easter Egg Dye

Natural Easter Egg Dye

Because of the excellent ingredients and the fact that, when dry, the paint looks great I would definitely purchase products from  Glob Colors in the future.

And if you still haven’t purchased Easter Egg Dye and are looking for something natural, try out Glob’s Natural Easter Egg Coloring Kit. Like the face paints, the egg dyes are made from herbs and plants (annatto, radish and cabbage), are non-toxic and CPSIA compliant. They are packaged in Post Consumer Waste Paper printed with vegetable inks.

 Glob Colors Face Paint Giveaway

We are giving away a set of Glob Colors Face Paint. You can enter our giveaway up to five times, and the last day of entry is Tuesday, April 7th, 2015. Entries must be received by 12:00 AM, PDT and is open to US residents only.