Super Starts Here.

Fresh Picked: August Produce

Summer vegetables

August is here, and to make sure you get the most out of it, we wanted to provide you a quick list of in season produce to look for when shopping at the local farmers market or supermarket. Superfoods is located in New Jersey but if you are not from this geographical region, check out this link so you can see what produce is best by you!



  • Apricots
  • Blackberries
  • Blueberries
  • Cantaloupe
  • Cherries
  • Grapefruit
  • Kiwi
  • Nectarines
  • Peaches
  • Plums
  • Raspberries
  • Strawberries
  • Watermelon



  • Avocado
  • Beets
  • Cucumbers
  • Corn
  • Green beans
  • Eggplant
  • Okra
  • Onions
  • Peas
  • Potatoes
  • Radishes
  • Summer squash
  • Tomatoes
  • Zucchini


Also be sure to explore a little more about this August produce, here is a great article



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Beets are now in season, and it is the perfect time to start incorporating this summer vegetable into a few dishes! If you are not sure where to start, or have never cooked with beets this quick article will help to get you started. First lets explore some nutritional facts about why beets are a great addition to any diet!


  1. Beets are a low calorie vegetable that are packed with fiber, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants
  2. They are a great source of naturally occurring folate or folic acid, which is important for a healthy pregnancy. For a woman of childbearing age, one should consume 400 micrograms of folic acid and a pregnant woman should consume 600 micrograms. By consuming the recommended amount of folic acid this will allow for healthy neural tube formation and brain development of the baby.
  3. Consuming beet juice can help lower high blood pressure and help increase stamina when working out due to the amount of nitrate


Some beet preparation tips are:

  • Grate raw beets for a colorful addition to salads or decorative garnish
  • Steam beets for 15 minutes to ensure they retain their maximum nutritional value and flavor
  • Marinate steamed beets in fresh lemon juice, extra virgin olive oil, and fresh herbs suggest to Wrap each beet in aluminum foil and bake them at 400˚F for1 and 2 hours, or until the blade of a knife slides easily in and out. After they are cooled slightly, the skins easily rubbed off with a paper towel. Cooked beets are like sponges, so soak in vinaigrette of woodsy sherry vinegar and virgin olive oil.



Here are a few recipes to try out


Beet Tahini

Adapted from Inventive Vegetarian


2 beets

Juice of 2 lemons

2 cloves of garlic

1/2 cup tahini

Salt, to taste



Preheat oven to 400F


1. Wash and trim, but don’t peel, the beets, then wrap each one in tin foil and toss it in the oven for 45-60 minutes, until a knife can easily pierce each beet.  Once the beets have cooled enough to handle, rub them with your thumbs and the skins should come off easily.


2.  Roughly chop the beets and the garlic and put both in the bowl of a food processor.  Give them a quick pulse to start breaking down the beets.


3.  Add the tahini and lemon juice and puree until smooth.  Taste and adjust salt as desired.  Serve cold or room temperature with crackers or raw vegetables.



Quinoa Salad Recipe with Roasted Beets, Chick Peas, Baby Spinach and Orange

Adapted from Gluten- Free Goddess, Serves 4.



3 cups cooked quinoa

2 beets, trimmed and quartered

Olive oil

Sea salt

1/4 cup fruity olive oil

1/4 cup fresh squeezed orange juice

2 teaspoons organic gluten-free tamari sauce

1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar or rice vinegar

1 tablespoon organic raw agave nectar or local honey

1 cup drained rinsed chick peas

2 big handfuls of baby spinach leaves

Sea salt and ground pepper, to taste

1 fresh orange, peeled, trimmed, cut into bite sized pieces



1. Preheat the oven to 375ºF.


2. Here’s how to cook quinoa in a rice cooker. While the quinoa is cooking, roast the beets in a medium size roasting pan, by combining the beets with a drizzle of olive oil and sprinkle of sea salt. Place the pan in the center of the oven and roast until the beets are tender (roughly 45 minutes). Remove the beets from the hot pan and set them aside to cool. When cool enough to handle, rub off the skin. Cut the beets into bite sized pieces.


3. To make the dressing, combine the olive oil, orange juice, GF tamari, vinegar, and agave in a glass measuring cup and whisk. Set aside.


4. Combine the warm, cooked quinoa in a mixing bowl with the chick peas and baby spinach leaves. Pour in the salad dressing and toss lightly. Season with sea salt and pepper, to taste.


5. Gently add in the cut up roasted beets and fresh orange pieces. Do not over mix or your entire salad will turn beet red. I think it’s more attractive to keep the staining to a minimum.


5. Serve with a sprinkle of fresh goat cheese, or slivered almonds, if desired.




Orange-Glazed Beets

Adapted from VegKitchen, serves: 4 to 6


6 medium beets (or any size, as long as it adds up to about 2 pounds)

2 teaspoons arrowroot or organic cornstarch

2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar

2/3 cup fresh orange juice

Freshly ground pepper to taste

Grated orange zest for garnish, optional

Minced fresh dill or other herb for garnish



  1. To cook the beets:Rinse the beets and cut away all but an inch of the stalks. Combine in a large deep saucepan with water to cover; bring to a boil, then simmer until just tender. How long this will take varies greatly upon the size of the beets; start checking after about 20 minutes, but don’t poke too many test holes into them, or they’ll bleed like crazy! When done, drain.
  2. No matter which cooking method you use, let the beets cool (you can plunge them into a bowl of cold water to speed things up), and when cool enough to handle, peel them and cut into bite-sized chunks.
  3. Combine the cornstarch and vinegar in a small container and stir until dissolved. Set aside.
  4. Heat the orange juice in a medium saucepan and bring to a gentle simmer. Whisk in the cornstarch and vinegar mixture, stirring carefully to avoid lumps.
  5. Stir in the diced beets. Cook over very low heat until heated through, about 2 to 3 minutes, then transfer to a serving bowl.
  6. If you juiced an organic orange, I highly recommend using grating some of the zest to garnish the beets, along with a sprinkling of dill or other fresh herb. Serve at once or cool until just warm.

Sources: acid

Be sure to check out for more about beets

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Perfect Picnic

During the summer, few things are more fun than going on a picnic! We love to have picnics everywhere, from a park to the pool. Here are some great tips, recipes, and activities we rounded up to ensure that you have the perfect picnic.

Picnic Planning from Hoosier Homemade


Liz from Hoosier Homemade gives some great tips for picnic planning. Her post features recipes as well as a list to make the perfect basket. She also manages to create a great layout with coordinating plates, napkins, and blanket, for a low price. A great resource for the early stages of picnicking!

Make Your Own Bubbles from Smockity Frocks


This bubble recipe is super easy and quick, but is sure to provide hours of fun! Grab an empty bubble container and wand, and fill it up with this simple recipe.

Cut A Watermelon For Small Hands from Mama Say What


Super easy, but also a completely different way to enjoy watermelon! Instead of cutting it into traditional triangles, try making it into long slices. Incredibly convenient, and perfect for small children!

Ants On A Log


This age old favorite is a great choice for a picnic! For a traditional version, break celery into halves and layer with peanut butter. Top with raisins. For a twist, try almond butter and craisins, hummus and carrot pieces, or peanut butter and dark chocolate chips.

For even more great picnic snack ideas, check out our SuperEmployee Elizabeth’s article on Abe’s Market!

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MEGAN MONDAY: Malicious Mercury

leadMegan Monday articles are written by Megan Kalocinski, a Certified Nutrition and Health Coach.

All references and information in this article is directly excerpted from “The Toxic Sandbox” by Libby McDonald.

To continue from last week’s article that focused on lead, I am going to highlight mercury this week, as it’s just as destructive to humans as lead.  In fact, it is considered the greatest heavy metal threat next to lead for children.  Oddly enough, while lead contamination amongst children is on the decline, mercury poisoning in children is on the rise, namely due to environmental influences.  Additionally, while lead toxicity has been studied for a hundred years, mercury toxicity has only been studied for fifty, which raises even more concerns about true long-term effects.

This “pervasive poison” (as author Libby McDonald refers to it in her book “The Toxic Sandbox”) is released into the air we breathe every day from coal-burning power plants.  As it travels into the atmosphere, it then makes its way into water through rain and windfall, where it then ends up in fish, which concentrate quantities of methyl mercury in their flesh.  If the fish are of predator type (meaning they are higher up on the food chain and/or of fatty tissue type and carrying the contaminants from all of the other fish/sea matter they have eaten) like tuna, swordfish, tilefish, etc., then they will contain the highest amounts of mercury.  This really stinks, for these types of fish contain high amounts of Omega-3 oils, which are VERY beneficial to our health, especially in children and pregnant women.  HOWEVER, these two groups are at the highest risk for mercury contamination and damage, so it’s a total double-edged sword.  Mercury contamination in fish has become so much of a concern over the past 10 years that women planning on getting pregnant, pregnant women, and children are advised to LIMIT the amount of fish consumed as to reduce heavy metal exposure as much as possible.

Why should we be so concerned about mercury?  Well, mercury has been linked to:

  • Memory deficits
  • Shortened attention span
  • Inability to concentrate
  • Lack of coordination
  • Problems learning language
  • Poor vision and hearing
  • Loss of IQ points
  • Mental retardation
  • Seizures
  • Depression
  • Bipolar disorder

According to scientific studies outlined by Libby McDonald, she notes that:

  • A child is dangerously exposed to mercury in-utero when a mother eats fish or seafood with a high level of mercury.
  • Mercury is MOST dangerous for children before the age of SIX.
  • Canned tuna and many kinds of sushi contain mercury.
  • Prenatal exposure to mercury is much more powerful in causing intellectual and behavioral problems than exposure after a child is born.
  • The Center for Disease Control estimates that 16% of U.S. women have blood mercury levels high enough to double their risk of giving birth to children with learning disabilities and/or neurological problems.
  • There is no documentation of what exact level of mercury exposure in-utero leads to demonstrable, lifelong harm.

OK, so many of you may be freaking out right now.  Some of you may have already been tested and show elevated levels of mercury in your blood.  If this is you, don’t beat yourself up thinking that you did your child harm.  Like mentioned above, there is no absolute level known from person-to-person as to what kind of harm can be done in-utero.  One particular level in one person may yield completely different outcomes in another individual.  However, there are some key points to also consider:

  • You can keep your children safe from high levels of mercury exposure by simply avoiding fish altogether, or at least eating fish known to be the least affected by mercury contamination. A list of those fish can be found here:
  • Today, vaccines contain little to no ethyl mercury (however, I am not stating this as being either pro- or anti-vaccine). Some vaccines (like the flu vaccine and some versions of DTaP) contain the preservative thimerosal, which is 49.6% mercury by weight and is metabolized into ethyl mercury (that is distinct from methyl mercury found in fish).  Ethyl mercury stays in the blood for a shorter period of time than methyl mercury (its half-life is a week or two).  In order to fully understand which vaccines contain any mercury-containing ingredients, you must read the ingredient label provided by the manufacturer to know for sure.
  • There were studies done around the globe (The Faroe Islands Study and The Seychelles Island Study) that showed interesting results regarding mercury exposure.
    • The Faroe Islands study showed that the effects of methyl mercury exposure on brain function are detectable at levels currently considered safe by the FDA and Environmental Protection Agency (awesome!)
    • In contrast, The Seychelles Islands study showed that low levels of mercury exposure are not toxic (however there were other variants that affected this outcome).

With all of this scary talk about mercury, you’re probably wondering when I’m going to cut to the chase and explain how kids are exposed and put at risk:

  • According to the Center for Disease Control, the most common way children are exposed to methyl mercury is by either eating contaminated fish or being exposed in the womb when their moms eat the fish.
    • By 2004, the EPA reported that 48 states (all except Alaska and Wyoming) had issued fish consumption advisories due to mercury contamination in their lakes and rivers.
    • For 15 states, this applied to 100% of their waterways.
    • 92% of the eastern seaboard and 100% of the Gulf Coast is under close advisory.
  • Dental fillings, also known as amalgam fillings, contain large amounts of mercury that actually seep into your bloodstream from the tooth. Dental amalgam is 50% mercury.  The World Health Organization says that amalgam fillings release about one microgram (1/1,000,000th gram) of mercury into your body every day.  To put this in perspective, the EPA says that each of us takes in about five to six micrograms of mercury in our food and water daily.  Composite, or non-amalgam fillings are becoming much more popular as concern is rising over mercury leaching into one’s bloodstream from dental work.
  • Mercury occurs naturally in coal, in mercury contamination in children who live near coal-burning power plants. By far, the largest source of methyl mercury in the U.S. is coal-burning power plants.
  • Crematoriums release mercury vapor into the air when amalgam fillings are incinerated.
  • Purified mercury is used commercially in:
    • Fever thermometers
    • Fluorescent light bulbs
    • Some types of electrical switches
    • thermostats
    • energy-efficient light bulbs

Mercury vapor is also released into the air when mercury-containing products and items are destroyed and/or disposed of in landfills or junkyards.  Once mercury vapor is pumped into the air, it can travel on wind currents hundreds of miles from its source, raining down into lakes, rivers, streams, and oceans.  Once in waterways, mercury is taken in by bacteria in aquatic sediment and tiny plants called plankton transform the heavy metal into methyl mercury.  Small fish then eat this plankton and the beginnings of food chain contamination occurs.

For women considering getting pregnant, they should reduce their exposure to mercury a good six to twelve months before conception and ultimately get a blood test done to see if mercury levels are initially high, as once a women is pregnant and/or breastfeeding, a cleanse cannot be done to remove heavy metals.  As it is, the Environmental Protection Agency has determined that mercury above 5.8 parts per billion (ppb) in the bloodstream of a woman who is of childbearing age can harm babies in the womb.  Additionally, if a pregnant woman eats fish with a high mercury concentration, the metal is pumped across to the fetus and becomes concentrated in the baby’s umbilical cord blood, significantly upping the dose of mercury in fetal blood above the mother’s own mercury blood level.  The National Academy of Sciences estimates that mercury exposure in the womb is responsible for sixty thousand babies born in this country each year with neurological damage and mental impairments.  What’s even more alarming is The Learning Disabilities Association of America, the National Education Association, and the Arc of the United States all say mercury pollution is one of the biggest culprits in the rising tide of learning deficits.

So…what do you do now?  Here are some of my suggestions:

  • If you are thinking of becoming pregnant, test your own level of mercury beforehand. This link explains why some conventional blood, hair, or urine tests may not be the best gauge for accurate readings and what you can use instead:
  • Be aware of products you use, such as cosmetics, as many are found tainted with mercury:
  • Limit and/or avoid fish if you are pregnant, want to become pregnant, or are feeding fish to small children. Check the link above for which fish have the lowest levels.
  • Obtain healthy levels of Omega 3 oils from fish through purified forms like Nordic Naturals fish oil, etc. You can also get plenty of Omegas from non-fish sources like chia seeds, flaxseed, etc.
  • Know your environment – if you are close to an industrial area and/or a coal-burning power plant, you should monitor your mercury levels.
  • Don’t touch mercury that could come from light bulbs, thermometers, etc.
  • Read vaccine ingredient labels to see which ones actually contain mercury and in what amount. There are different manufacturers of vaccines that have varying ingredients and preservatives.  Share your concern with your doctor.

We will cover “detoxing” and cleansing the body of heavy metals next week, as this is something that can be achieved and then maintained on a daily basis…and for every member of the family.  It’s up to us to take control as much as possible of the risks that these contaminants pose on ourselves and our children.  While it seems they will not leave our environment anytime soon, there are definitely measures we can take to try and keep them out of our bodies as best as possible.

Do any of you have mercury stories of your own?  I recall my parents saying how they used to play with the mercury from broken thermometers by rolling it around in their fingers.  Oh my….. :-/

Megan Monday articles are written by Megan Kalocinski, a Certified Holistic Nutrition and Health Coach and Owner/Founder of Empower Nutrition & Health Coaching, LLC. Megan educates and empowers women, men, and children of all ages to learn the true ins-and-outs of “feeding the brain with knowledge about the best foods, products, and habits for one’s body” in order to reach optimal health and wellness potentials. Visit her website today to learn more: or feel free to send her an e-mail Follow Megan on Twitter (@MPowerNutrition) and like her onFacebook: Empower Nutrition & Health Coaching, LLC.



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Super Strawberries

Are you looking for a refreshing summer snack that pairs perfectly with breakfast, lunch or even dessert?  Strawberries are one of our favorite summer foods that we love to incorporate into snacks and with so many health benefits, what isn’t to love?  Strawberries are best eaten when their pinkish-red color is most vibrant.  This bright red color of strawberries is perfect to brighten up the aesthetic display of any meal, so get create and see what you can create! If you are looking for a strawberry that has a greater intensity of flavor, choose a smaller variety because larger ones tend to have greater water content and therefore the flavor of the fruit is diluted.  It was also found that these berries are best eaten within the first 2 days of being picked because they have a major loss of vitamin C and antioxidants; to receive the highest amounts of these vitamins and minerals be sure to buy fresh local produce.  Another tip for keeping your strawberries fresh in the refrigerator is to place them in a cold storage bin or drawer to help boost the humidity in the space and reduce the cold air circulation around the produce. Strawberries have many antioxidants, which we know helps decrease the aging of cells, and also the polyphenols in strawberries play a major role in helping regulate blood sugar response, therefore shown to be a low glycemic index food.  As strawberries are now in season, pick some up at the farmers market and enjoy these flavorful berries! Strawberry fish Strawberry butterfly Stawberry Breakfast

Strawberry flowers

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MEGAN MONDAY: Get The Lead Out


Megan Monday articles are written by Megan Kalocinski, a Certified Nutrition and Health Coach.

As summer beats on and most of you are enjoying warm, sunny days outside at the pool, in the yard, or at the beach, you probably aren’t thinking about things like lead, mercury, and other things that pose as toxins to us, especially our developing children. However, it’s times like this when we can be exposed to a greater amount of things that can attribute to something we never may have considered to be an issue. In fact, many parents are unaware of the potential that their children (and themselves!) can be walking around with toxic levels of heavy metals in their bodies. Left untreated, this can manifest into numerous health concerns that one would definitely want to avoid. I am going to dedicate the next few weeks covering numerous things that we should be aware of – for our children and ourselves – to protect our health and longevity.

My fascination with studying toxins started when I went back to school for health coaching. Studying report after report and scientific study after study, I was amazed (and angered) that so many things exist in our society that can be so harmful to our health and well-being. It became even more real for me when my son’s pediatrician ordered routine bloodwork for him at age 6 months…and one of the things being screened for was lead and other heavy metals. I inquired why, for how can a 6 month old be exposed to such things? Amazingly, our doctor explained that there is an alarmingly increasing rate of young children with lead and mercury levels that exceed the tolerable “safe” limits – and the sooner it’s detected, the sooner life-saving interventions can be implemented. I also started encountering clients in my health coaching practice with heavy metal toxicity – something that has plagued them with fatigue, immunity issues, headaches, vision problems, inflammation, brain fog, mood imbalances, hormonal imbalances, sleep disruption, and cognitive function issues. The more I looked into the possibility of heavy metal build-up in the body (because many of them manifest themselves in the fatty tissue), one of the first recommendations I make is to get tested for heavy metals present in the body. Sure enough, 90% of the time there is an issue with heavy metals, and then we discuss options to start detoxing and eliminating exposure (which actually has to happen first, for there is no point in detoxing if you are just going to keep re-introducing the toxin). Curious about this health conundrum and its effect on children, I read the book “The Toxic Sandbox” by Libby McDonald – a parent and researcher who spent years investigating the concerns over common toxins that all parents should be aware of, but namely lead and mercury. All of the references in this article are citing work covered by Libby McDonald from her book.

Lead is considered the top toxin to be aware of and to worry about, especially in young children due to how sensitive developing brains are to this metal. Lead has been used since the twentieth century, and it was very common in gas and paint until tighter restrictions came about within the last 30 years. Thanks to extensive research over the past three decades linking lead exposure to severe health risks, limits have been placed on manufacturing standards for this metal in addition to preventative measures to be taken to safeguard our most vulnerable populations.

One of the most common exposures to lead was through paint and gasoline; until 1978, when a ban was placed on lead being used in paint, it was widely used in most homes and is the source of most lead poisoning cases to date. The ban on lead being used in gasoline wasn’t put into effect until 1991, so think about all of the lead that was airborne from vehicle emissions..being breathed in AND falling onto our soil (farms) and being washed into the groundwater supply (not to mention bodies of water that fish, etc. live in…and we eat).

  • The Centers for Disease Control says that ¼ of US children are exposed to lead in their own homes (especially if built before 1978); and with 80% of US houses built before the 1978 ban on lead paint, the threat of exposure will not go away for a long time.
  • There is mounting evidence that there is no safe threshold for lead in the body – evidence that conflicts sharply with the Center for Disease Control’s position that up to 10 mcg/dL is acceptable (yikes!).
  • Thankfully, lead levels in children have dropped significantly over the past 30 years. Today’s average count is somewhere between 1.5 and 2 mcg/dL.
  • Exposure to lead early in childhood causes lifelong impairments for which there are no simple treatments.
  • Lead in children is associated with:

o   Decreased IQ

o   Reading problems

o   Failure to thrive and/or grow

o   Hearing loss

o   Speech deficits

o   Attention deficits

o   Antisocial behavior

o   Aggressive behavior

o   Delinquency and criminal behavior

  • A 2005 study done by Dr. Bruce Lanphear (at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital) showed that lead harms children at levels considerably lower than the CDC’s threshold of 10 mcg/dL. Children show a decline of 7.4 IQ points for the first 10 mcg/dL of blood.
  • Lead targets developing brain cells – the frontal lobe, which is responsible for planning, judgment, and concept formation is the last part of the brain to fully develop, so it tends to be at the greatest risk for lead poisoning.
  • Children are particularly vulnerable to lead. The BBB, or blood-brain-barrier, serves as the body’s built-in mechanism for protecting the brain from poisonous substances. Lead messes this whole protective system up by masking as calcium, which easily crosses the blood-brain-barrier. What makes this fact concerning is babies’ and toddlers’ brains crave calcium in their effort to develop, until children are around six years old; this becomes a problem because they can absorb 3-4 times more lead than an adult. If a child has a calcium deficiency, it makes matters worse because the developing body will grab on to this calcium imposter, accelerating the uptake of lead.
  • All brain damage caused by lead has a lag effect, meaning you will not see the deficits until a child is 6 or 7 years old.
  • Scientific studies show that lead attributes to about 1/3 of attention-deficit-disorder among US children in comparison to tobacco smoke before birth. Children with blood levels of more than 2 mcg/dL were four times more likely to have ADHD than children with lower levels.
  • Unborn babies are also exposed to lead! Lead passes through the umbilical cord to unborn babies, so it is crucial for about-to-become or already pregnant women to be cautious about previous and current lead exposure. Studies on lead and pregnancy show that pregnancy doubled the lead levels in the blood.
  • Lead can also find its way into breast milk, although it’s not as great as the lead that is released from a woman’s bones during pregnancy.
  • Half of the lead ingested or inhaled when women were younger gets stored in their bones for up to 30 years. During pregnancy and lactation, women’s bodies require additional calcium, and the lead (which mimics calcium) stored in their bones activates and enters the bloodstream. A calcium supplement during pregnancy can help prevent the transfer of lead into unborn babies.

Other than exposure in the womb and/or through breast milk, how else are children exposed to lead?

Humans can only be exposed to lead in two ways (outside of the womb): either SWALLOWING or BREATHING IT IN. The good news is that it’s nearly impossible to absorb lead through the skin.

The most common ways people are exposed to lead are:

–        House paint *Lead paint in old homes is the most common way for a child to get exposed to lead. It’s estimated that 42-47 million homes in this country still contain lead paint, mostly in the eastern US, with parts of New York City considered to be the lead belt of the country. Also, lead paint is sweet, thus enticing to children who pay peel a piece of chipped paint off and eat it.

–        Soil *Due to lead being added to gasoline in the past, it still lives on in dirt alongside roadways as well as in soil around old houses and fences where lead paint has chipped away over the years.

–        Plumbing *Some of the drinking water in the US still travels through lead pipes and lead solder into our homes, especially in older communities where houses pre-date a modern revision to the Safe Drinking Water Act. You should and can have your water tested for lead. You should also have the plumbing in your house inspected to see if it contains lead. Hot water leaches more lead than cold water.

–        Did you know that most garden hoses contain lead? This is especially important to know if you water your garden with a hose that is lined with lead and/or if you or your children drink from a lead-tainted hose in the summer, etc. Non-lead versions are available and becoming more popular to use.

–        Food containers *Lead solder is sometimes used to seal imported canned food, in addition to leaching into food served on dishes painted with lead paint or from pewter.

–        Objects made with lead (i.e. products from foreign countries lacking lead standards) *Toys, costume jewelry, lunch boxes, flashlights, fishing rods, lipsticks and other cosmetics, hair dyes, and calcium supplement tablets are just to name of few of commonly tainted products. Namely, this is why I highly recommend switching cosmetics and also sticking to supplement companies that strictly test their raw materials for supplements.

–        Imports from Asia *Unfortunately, countries like China have had a horrible reputation with pollution and tainted products, namely lead used in metals and paints on things like toys. Additionally, any food supplement like traditional Chinese herbs, etc. contain high levels of lead because they are grown in polluted areas as well as being processed in plants that are tainted with heavy metals.


As parents, we need to be ever vigilant for our children, so when I read accounts of parents losing children from accidentally ingesting lead charms from bracelets made overseas, it makes me shudder. High enough levels of ingested lead can cause deadly seizures and brain dysfunction. It is also important to try and know where your food is grown. Lead has been known to collect in the roots of plants, although not moving as much into the shoots and leaves. Regardless, you should be cautious of crops grown in any areas that could have potential lead exposure (i.e. near highways, in highly-industrialized areas, etc.). Even dust from demolition work can be tracked into homes, lodging itself in carpets, between floor boards, and then eventually circulated throughout the home via air vent system.

The CDC dropped the universal testing requirement for children in the US (due to complaints from insurance companies that it was not a money-maker or doctors that it was a cost burden many families), therefore opening up a huge loophole for children to slip through the cracks if they have been exposed.

Personally, one of the best ways to help your child is to have them screened for lead when they are 6 months old and again at 1 year (due to the fact that young babies and children put everything in their mouths). If the count is above 2 mcg/dL, see where possible sources are coming from and have them tested again at 2 years old, which is the time lead levels generally peak.

Lead exposure is a scary thing and what’s even scarier is that you do not really know your levels unless you have your blood tested. Consuming supplements like chlorella and spirulina are heavy-metal binding, therefore they can help reduce levels in the body. Additionally, calcium supplements have been shown to be very effective at helping to prevent lead from crossing the blood-brain-barrier (besides, healthy calcium levels are important for growing children). I use an allergy-free, great-tasting liquid calcium supplement made by Blue Bonnet. My son takes it like a charm (it’s blueberry flavored).

I hope this information has been helpful about learning a bit more about what I refer to as a silent killer. Stay tuned next week for coverage on mercury.

Megan Monday articles are written by Megan Kalocinski, a Certified Holistic Nutrition and Health Coach and Owner/Founder of Empower Nutrition & Health Coaching, LLC. Megan educates and empowers women, men, and children of all ages to learn the true ins-and-outs of “feeding the brain with knowledge about the best foods, products, and habits for one’s body” in order to reach optimal health and wellness potentials. Visit her website today to learn more: or feel free to send her an e-mail Follow Megan on Twitter (@MPowerNutrition) and like her onFacebook: Empower Nutrition & Health Coaching, LLC.

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Healthy BBQ Round Up

BBQ season is in full swing, which means it’s probably time to switch things up on the grill. We picked some of our favorite main dishes and sides to give you some inspiration for your next grilled meal! Check them out, and let us know what you like to do for a BBQ!


Strawberry Mango Salsa {From PBS Food}


This twist on traditional salsas mixes fruit and jalapeños for an unexpected (but delicious!) combo. If your children aren’t fans of spicy food, just omit the peppers.

Warm Red Potato Salad {From Saveur}


Potato salad does not always have to be loaded with mayo, as demonstrated by this recipe. With red onions and oregano, this is sure to be a crowd pleaser!

Sweet Potato Salad {From Two Peas and their Pod}


Another twist on traditional potato salad, this one features sweet potatoes! Grill them first for maximum flavor.

Stuffed Bell Peppers {From Health Actually}


These peppers are stuffed with quinoa and vegetables for maximum flavor!



Chipotle Grilled Shrimp {Closet Cooking}

Chipotle Lime Grilled Shrimp 500 5559

Shrimp skewers paired with lime and chipotle are a perfect addition to any BBQ! Simple to prepare and easy to grill.

Portobello Mushroom Balsamic Burgers {From Food Network}

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These mushroom burgers are coated in a tangy balsamic sauce for maximum flavor, and then grilled to perfection.

Turkey Spinach Sliders {From Bon Appetit}


Spice up your traditional turkey burger by adding spinach. Feel free to skip the mayo and other additions.

Spicy Chickpea Veggie Burgers {From Running on Real Food}


These burgers are not only delicious, but are also vegan and gluten free!

Grilled Peanut Ginger Chicken {From Renee’s Kitchen Adventures}


Try a new twist on chicken by marinating some pieces in this peanut sauce. Delicious and different!

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TEST KITCHEN: Super Cookie Pudding Parfait

It’s official, MySuperCookies are here! In celebration of the launch, we have created a simple and delicious pudding parfait. You can grab your own box of cookies now at Abe’s Market 🙂


We created this pudding using a secret ingredient…avocado! Based on this recipe from Two Peas and their Pod, this pudding was a crowd pleaser! We created a parfait by layering crumbled honey SuperCookies and pudding, and then topping with some raspberries and dark chocolate chunks. For an extra touch, we rimmed the glass with shaved coconut. Feel free to layer and top with whatever you please!


To learn more about avocados and their health benefits, check out this Megan Monday article



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MEGAN MONDAY: Healthy Popsicles

Healthy Summer Popsicle Ideas for the Whole Family

Megan Monday articles are written by Megan Kalocinski, a Certified Nutrition and Health Coach.

Other than blazing hot temperatures and sunny skies, summertime is known for the abundance of delicious frozen treats that kids and adults alike love to indulge in. I recall the gallons of ice cream, frozen yogurt, custard, ice pops and sorbet I consumed as a kid – with flavors from the traditional chocolate and vanilla to blue bubblegum replete with actual multi-colored bubblegum pieces, the possibilities seemed endless to my love of frozen delicacies. Every time the ice cream man would roll down our street in his mini-school-bus-turned-sugar-shack-on-wheels blasting that horrid song that sounded like a dying music box over the loudspeaker, every kid would dart out from wherever we were to rush and buy whatever junk-on-a-stick our allowance money would purchase for the day. We didn’t care what was in those multi-colored and flavored ice pops and novelty ice creams; they tasted good and that is all that mattered. Our parents didn’t really know better back then to watch out for artificial colorings and flavorings, not to mention the exorbitant sugar content these treats packed. Armed with better knowledge and understanding about the health impacts such questionable ingredients can have, especially on children, we are now the generation in the driver’s seat choosing what our kids and households consume on a daily basis – including treats. Check out the following list of ingredients taken straight from some of the most popular popsicle treats consumed (Popsicle and Creamsicles); ingredients such as artificial colorings, flavorings, high fructose corn syrup (one of the worst sweeteners out there!), and preservatives find their way into these products…and then into your kids. While the novel pink or blue tongue from eating an ice pop is cute, the aftermath in our kids’ bodies is not.

Nutrition Facts

Serving Size1 Pop (53g)
Servings Per Container20
Amount Per Serving
% Daily Value*
Total Fat0g 0%
Sodium0mg 0%
Total Carbohydrate10g 3%
Vitamin C 20%
*Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet

Not a significant source of calories from fat, saturated fat, trans fat, cholesterol, dietary fiber, vitamin a, calcium and iron.

This box contains the following flavors:
Orange, Cherry, Grape
Orange Pop: water, high fructose corn syrup, corn syrup, sugar, contains 1 percent or less of each of the following: malic acid, citric acid, guar gum, ascorbic acid (vitamin c), locust bean gum, natural and artificial flavor, annatto extract (for color)
Cherry Pop: water, high fructose corn syrup, corn syrup, sugar, contains 1 percent or less of each of the following: malic acid, citric acid, guar gum, natural and artificial flavor, red 40, ascorbic acid (vitamin c), locust bean gum, cherry juice concentrate
Grape Pop: water, high fructose corn syrup, corn syrup, sugar, contains 1 percent or less of each of the following: beet juice concentrate, malic acid, citric acid, guar gum, ascorbic acid (vitamin c), grape juice concentrate, natural flavor, locust bean gum, red 3, blue 1, yellow 6


Nutrition Facts

Serving Size1 Pop (50g)
Servings Per Container20
Amount Per Serving
% Daily Value*
Total Fat0g 0%
Sodium0mg 0%
Total Carbohydrate4g 1%
Vitamin C 10%
*Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet

Not a significant source of calories from fat, saturated fat, trans fat, cholesterol, dietary fiber, vitamin A, calcium and iron.

This box contains the following flavors:
Orange, Cherry, Grape
Orange pop: water, glycerine, maltodextrin (corn)*, contains 1 percent or less of each of the following: citric acid, guar gum, aspartame, acesulfame potassium, locust bean gum, ascorbic acid (vitamin c), natural and artificial flavor, annatto extract (for color)
Cherry pop: water, glycerine, maltodextrin (corn)*, contains 1 percent or less of each of the following: citric acid, guar gum, aspartame, natural and artificial flavor, acesulfame potassium, red 40, locust bean gum, ascorbic acid (vitamin c), cherry juice concentrate
Grape pop: water, glycerine, maltodextrin (corn)*, contains 1 percent or less of each of the following: citric acid, guar gum, aspartame, grape juice concentrate, natural flavor, acesulfame potassium, locust bean gum, ascorbic acid (vitamin c), red 3, blue 1, yellow 6
*Adds a trivial amount of sugar
Phenylketonurics contain phenylalanine


Nutrition Facts

Serving Size1 Bar (65 g)
Servings Per Container8
Amount Per Serving
Calories From Fat20
% Daily Value*
Total Fat2g 3%
Saturated Fat0.5g 3%
Trans Fat0g
Cholesterolless than 5mg 0%
Sodium30mg 1%
Total Carbohydrate20g 7%
Dietary Fiber0g 0%
Vitamin A 2%
Vitamin C 15%
Calcium 4%
Iron 0%
*Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet

This box contains the following flavors:
Orange, Raspberry
Orange Creamsicle: Orange Sherbet: nonfat milk, water, liquid sugar (sugar, water), high fructose corn syrup, maltodextrin, corn syrup, milk fat, orange juice concentrate, citric acid, malic acid, mono and diglycerides, guar gum, polysorbate 80, locust bean gum, natural flavor, ascorbic acid, annatto (for color), Low Fat Ice Cream: nonfat milk, liquid sugar (sugar, water), corn syrup, milkfat, whey, maltodextrin, high fructose corn syrup, propylene glycol monoesters, cellulose gum, mono and diglycerides, cellulose gum, natural flavor, locust bean gum, polysorbate 80, guar gum, carrageenan, vitamic A palmitate
Raspberry Creamsicle: Raspberry Sherbet: nonfat milk, water, liquid sugar (sugar, water), high fructose corn syrup, corn syrup, maltodextrin, corn syrup, milk fat, raspberry juice and plum concentrate, vegetable juice concentrate (for color), citric acid, malic acid, raspberry, mono and diglycerides, guar gum, locust bean gum, polysorbate 80, natural flavor, ascorbic acid, annatto (for color), Low Fat Ice Cream: nonfat milk, liquid sugar (sugar, water), corn syrup, milkfat, whey, maltodextrin, high fructose corn syrup, propylene glycol monoesters, cellulose gum, mono and diglycerides, cellulose gum, natural flavor, locust bean gum, polysorbate 80, guar gum, carrageenan, vitamic A palmitate


This article isn’t intended to shake a finger at anyone who still gives their kids (or eats themselves) the standard ice pop; rather, I just wanted to share some awesome healthy alternatives you can make at home with your kids and family – not only will it be a fun project, but you have control over what ingredients go into these treats, and you can even get some fruits and veggies in there without the kids (or adults) making a fuss. It’s always fun to experiment and kids love to get involved in the kitchen AND with what they make. Did you know kids are much more likely to eat healthy foods if they had a hand in the preparation?

To start, some of the things you may want to have on-hand to make your popsicle-making easy:

  • For simple, cheap, quick, and easy – you can use little disposable paper cups with either a lollipop stick or popsicle stick inserted during freezing. These are perfect-sized treats and easy for kids to manage getting their smaller mouths around.
  • Spoons make great stick alternatives AND they can be reused!
  • There are some great popsicle molds available online to make re-usable pop-making a breeze (I prefer a BPA and phthalate-free version!). Even fancier is the ZOKU brand/model of popsicle maker. I found all available on for prices ranging from $5 to $30.
  • Here are some quick links to things you can get on

o   Treat sticks

o   Zoku molds


Love creamsicles (or cream-based pops with fruit, chocolate, etc.)? Here is a great cream base to use. You can layer it with cut-up fruit (like kiwis, strawberries, etc.), you can blend it with fruit (and/or veggies!) to make a smoothie and then freeze, or you can blend it with fresh-pressed fruit juice like orange to make a delicious homemade orange creamsicle!

Dairy version (for cream base/layer):
– 1 cup heavy cream (or half-and-half), divided into two 1/2 cups
– 1/2 cup whole milk (or lower-fat milk)
– 1/4 cup (50 gr) (preferred) coconut palm sugar (it’s healthier!); you can also use stevia to replace sugar or use sucanat. I personally try not to use white or granulated table sugar in anymore recipes.
– pinch of salt
– 3 egg yolks
– 1 tspn vanilla extract

Combine all ingredients above in a saucepan over medium heat and whisk, blending everything together until heated (don’t boil…you’ll scramble your eggs!). Let cool and then add to whatever else you’re making it with. You can even leave the egg yolks out if you want a “lighter” version or if you’re going to make a vegan version with coconut milk.

Non-Dairy version (for cream base/layer):

Follow the directions above, but substitute full-fat and/or low-fat organic coconut milk (I personally love and use Native Forest Organic canned coconut milks…they are in BPA-free cans as well. I order mine on

You can even sub cashew milk or another nut milk.)


Pina Colada Pop

Delicious, tropical, creamy, frozen delights! Why are they good to make? The pineapples in the recipe help with bone-building (manganese) wrinkle-fighting and immunity due to vitamin C.

How to make:
Blend together 4 cups pineapple chunks (about 1 pineapple) + 1 cup canned coconut milk + ½ cup sweetened coconut flakes. Pour mixture into popsicle molds, insert stick and freeze until solid. How easy is that?!?!


Raspberry Lemonade Pops

These fiber-full and anti-oxidant-rich pops are so delicious, you won’t realize they are good for you!

How to make:
Blend together 1 pint or 1 bag frozen raspberries (about 3 cups, and preferably organic, since berries are on the Dirty Dozen list) + ½ cup freshly squeezed lemon juice + ½ cup coconut palm sugar dissolved in 1 cup water. Pour mixture into popsicle molds, insert stick and freeze until solid. You can even cut the sugar in half if going for a lower-sugar pop…or skip it altogether and use stevia.



Strawberry Shortcake Greek Yogurt Popsicles


1 cup Greek Yogurt (I prefer plain, as it has way less sugar in it; you can add vanilla extract and stevia or a little bit of coconut palm sugar to sweeten it up a bit)

½ cup milk OR coconut milk if you prefer

½ tsp ground vanilla beans OR vanilla extract

⅓ cup strawberries, chopped

⅓ cup shortcake, crumbled


1. Mix the yogurt, milk, and ground vanilla beans together until completely smooth.

2. Gently mix in the strawberries and shortcake. Divide among popsicle molds, and place in the freezer.

3. After 1 hour, insert popsicle sticks.

4. Let freeze completely, 3-4 hours.



Orange Creamsicle – The creamy & delicious flavor of the traditional, but without all of the added fat. They also have the added benefit of protein from the Greek yogurt.

How to make:
Blend together:

– 1 cup frozen fresh-pressed organic orange juice (preferred) or if pressed for time, you can use organic frozen concentrate

– 2 cups filtered water

– 1 cup Greek yogurt (use which fat version you prefer; I personally use higher fat versions for my young kids)

– 3 tablespoons honey

– 1 teaspoon vanilla extract


Pour mixture into popsicle molds, insert stick and freeze until solid.


Peaches ‘n’ Cream– Try this delicious take on the sweet and delectable summer treat that offers a great antioxidant dose with vitamins A and C.

How to make:
–        Blend together 4 ½ cups chopped organic peaches (skins on)

–        1 teaspoon vanilla

–        In a separate bowl, mix together ½ cup organic half and half cream + ⅓ cup maple syrup

–        Drizzle 1 tablespoon of the cream mixture into each popsicle mold, top with peach mixture and gently mix to create a swirl effect.

–        Insert stick and freeze until solid.


Strawberry Smoothie Pops

  • 1/2 cup sliced pineapple or mango (or banana) (60g)
  • 1/2 cup sliced strawberries (80g)
  • 1/3 cup raw kale or spinach (omit if desired) (15g)
  • 1/4 cup milk or yogurt of choice (60g)
  • 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • sweetener of choice, to taste (I prefer using coconut palm sugar; take into consideration the type of milk used as well. Remember that the frozen product will be less sweet, so you may want to try adding some stevia or a dash of pure maple syrup.)

Combine everything in a blender, food processor, etc. until super-smooth. Pour into popsicle molds or paper cups, and insert spoons or popsicle sticks. Enjoy!


Chocolate Covered Kiwi or Banana (or any fruit, really!) Popsicles – Genius! Chocolate AND fruit!?!?


You can use either bittersweet dark chocolate and/or semi-sweet chocolate, preferably organic.

Note that the kiwis are a bit more tart after they are frozen (especially if you use ones that aren’t quite ripe), so the sweeter chocolate balances out the kiwi nicely.
What you’ll need:

– 6 large kiwis, peeled using this awesome method, cut into 1/3″-1/2″ thick rounds
– 1 cup dark chocolate or semi-sweet chocolate chips
– 1/4 cup coconut oil
– popsicle sticks or lollipop sticks

Slice the peeled kiwis into rounds with a lollipop stick in each one. Place on a tray lined with wax paper or parchment. Freeze for at least 4 hours and up to 48 hours.

In a glass bowl, melt the chocolate and the coconut oil over a pan of simmering water.
Dip each frozen kiwi or other piece of fruit into the melted chocolate. The chocolate will harden within a few moments of being dipped. Eat immediately or re-freeze.


Black Bean Fudgesicles (Really!??! BEANS!?!?)

From Kathy Hester’s “The Great Vegan Bean Book,” copyright 2013; Recipe reprinted with permission from Fair Winds Press.

Soy-free, gluten-free oil-free, these healthier fudgesicles still taste like your childhood favorites.

1 1/2 cups cooked black beans or 1 can (15 ounces), rinsed and drained
1 can (14 ounces) light coconut milk
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
3 tablespoons agave nectar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Puree all the ingredients in a food processor until smooth. There will be some black flecks from the black bean skins. I think they look like chocolate flecks, but you can strain the mixture through a cheesecloth if you like. Fill your frozen pop molds about seven eighths full of the mixture. Freeze for several hours or overnight before serving.

Makes 6 large pops.



Banana Fudgesicle – A great way to get a dose of potassium and calcium for stronger bones and muscle function!

Blend together:

– 2 bananas

– 2 cups milk, fat preference up to you (or coconut milk or nut milk of choice)

– ¼ cup cocoa powder

– ¼ cup coconut palm sugar

Pour mixture into popsicle molds, insert stick and freeze until solid.


What are some of your favorite popsicle ideas? Please share them below!

Megan Monday articles are written by Megan Kalocinski, a Certified Holistic Nutrition and Health Coach and Owner/Founder of Empower Nutrition & Health Coaching, LLC. Megan educates and empowers women, men, and children of all ages to learn the true ins-and-outs of “feeding the brain with knowledge about the best foods, products, and habits for one’s body” in order to reach optimal health and wellness potentials. Visit her website today to learn more: or feel free to send her an e-mail Follow Megan on Twitter (@MPowerNutrition) and like her onFacebook: Empower Nutrition & Health Coaching, LLC.

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BLOG ROUND UP: Fourth of July Crafts (for Kids!)

fourth of july roundup


Fourth of July is fast approaching, which means plenty of barbecues, picnics, and beach! We rounded up a few of our favorite Fourth crafts to keep kids occupied during the festivities. What do you do at your BBQs?

Stars and Stripes Bean Bag Toss {Repeat Crafter Me}

This easy craft doubles as a game when finished! All you need is some cloth, beans, and a cardboard box. So cute!

Handprint American Flags {Reading Confetti}

This easy handprint craft is also a keepsake! You can make it on a t-shirt (as featured), or on a piece of paper to use as decoration. Either way, it is cute and simple!

Fireworks Ring {Fantastic Fun and Learning}

All you need to make these cute rings are pipe-cleaners! Pick ones in sparkly red, white, and blue. So easy!

Tissue Paper Flag {I Heart Crafty Things}

This flag is great for younger children, since all you need to do is rip and glue tissue paper! Add metallic star stickers, and your flag is finished!

Patriotic Windsock {Five Crafty Sisters}

The base of this windsock is something you probably already have lying around—plastic cups! You can use blue or red, and then add tissue paper streamers.


BONUS: Outside Games {The Crafty Crow}


The basis of many of these games are old water bottles! Super easy DIYs to have set up for Fourth of July, or any outside event!


Have a great holiday filled with friends, family, and fun!


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