TBT: The Cancer Series-Part 5 (The one where I wean my baby)

If you want to read earlier posts from the Cancer Series or learn more about why I am posting these personal blog posts years later, you can do that here. This particular excerpt comes from the private blog that I maintained through MyLifeLine.org at the time surrounding my cancer diagnosis and treatment. It highlights the emotional and logistical struggles that I was moving through. I was trying to reconcile the attachment parenting choices that I wanted to make (i.e., exclusive breastfeeding and child-led weaning) with the gravity of the illness that I was facing, coupled with my intense desire to do everything in my power to increase the likelihood of the success of my cancer fight. It recounts my attempts to meet my infant son’s nutritional needs in a way that was healthy for both him and for me.

Although I did not know it at the time, in addition to Asher dealing with a mommy who had cancer, I was dealing with a child who had multiple food allergies and feeding delays (we still attend feeding therapy regularly four+ years later). This is our journey through weaning. I am posting it here to relay my experience and my story. It is not to be construed as medical advice, or any kind of advice for that matter.

This entry was originally published on February 9, 2011, approximately three weeks after I began my radiation treatments.

Let’s cut to the chase. I’m tired. Actually today is better than the past two days have been, which is why I have the energy to at least get to item #26 on my “to do” list for the day and post a little update. Undoubtedly, the fact that three weeks ago Eva was home sick the whole week, and two weeks ago Alina was home sick the whole week, and last week the Blizzard of the Century kept everyone home most of the week all contributed to my general exhaustion. I think there’s more to it than that. I’m not sure if the current fatigue is due to the radiation itself or to the need to get to radiation every day or both. I’m hoping that at least a big part of it is due to the need to get to radiation every day, and will thus be temporary.

I go to radiation every morning right after I put Asher down for his nap. This means that the time that used to be my least parentally-demanding portion of the day is now unavailable to get laundry, dishes, cleaning, cooking etc. done. Nevertheless, all of those things are just sitting around still waiting for my attention later in the day without regard to how tired I am feeling. This brings me back to the radiation itself. I do think that the actual radiation is making me tired too. The last two days I woke up wondering how soon it would be before I could get back into bed, and my limbs felt a bit too cumbersome to both lift and move. Bleh. But enough about the tired, let’s move on to the next thing.

Weaning. It’s been almost 48 hours since Asher last nursed. It makes me sad. He’s doing pretty well with it overall, but it makes me sad. And did I mention the sad? In a quiet moment, I took this video of me and Asher on my third day of radiation, when I knew that our days of nursing were numbered. Rich offered to take it for me, but I really wanted to just remember what it looked like to gaze down at Asher while he nursed to sleep. He always rubbed his hand back and forth across my stomach while nursing. I think that it was his comfort object. I guess that’s the best reason to have a soft mommy belly.

To clarify, according to several of the most respected breastfeeding authorities, it is believed to be safe to continue nursing through radiation. In fact, the only instance in which nursing is thought to be contraindicated with radiation is in the case of breast cancer. Even then it is believed to be okay to nurse on the side that is not receiving the radiation. Tuck that away as an interesting fact, because both the nurse at the radiation oncologist’s office and the La Leche League leader with whom I spoke told me otherwise. If I hadn’t challenged them based upon other research that I had done, both they and I would have continued to believe this incorrect information.

So, you ask, if it’s safe to breastfeed then why am I weaning? (Side note: Did you all know that Rich, Alina, and I were the “faces” of La Leche League’s national capital campaign in 2007? We were. Did you know that I have spent every day of the past 8+ years either pregnant or nursing or both? I have. Do you still wonder why I’m tired? I don’t.).

Jokes aside, breastfeeding is very important to me for many many reasons and has been a big part of my mothering relationship with each of my babies. I was not eager to wean Asher so soon. In fact, I have never weaned my children. I followed the girls’ lead on that, but by the same token it is very important to me that I do everything that I reasonably can to restore and maintain my good health so that I can mother my children until they are parents themselves.

I had the very strong feeling that I needed to stop nursing to allow my hormones to regulate. My body does not seem to respond well to the hormone fluctuations associated with pregnancy/nursing (menopause is going to be FUN!) I didn’t want to make this fight any harder on my body than necessary. I also wanted to conserve my body’s energy for healing rather than producing food. In addition, I was hoping that not nursing at night would allow for better sleep, because radiation is exhausting and my body needs the sleep time to repair from the damage done by the treatment. Most importantly though, was my desire to be able to really pursue cleansing and detoxifying my body following radiation, cancer killing, surgery, etc. I can’t detox while still nursing, or my body will dump the toxins into my milk, and then into my sweet boy, and that’s not a good option. So, here we are at weaning.

Now, this is an appropriate time to remind all that both of the girls are on gluten and dairy free diets as they seem sensitive to gluten and dairy. Asher too showed sensitivities to gluten, dairy, soy, and nuts through my milk, so I rarely ate any of those. This presented me with the challenge of what to feed him if my milk, and soy or dairy-based milk substitutes weren’t going to be an option, and he was heretofore exclusively breast fed. I tried him on some food (mushed avocado and applesauce). That was a disaster. He hated both, and clearly kept trying to figure out how to get the liquidy evil off of his tongue (he tried gagging, drooling, crying, etc.) He also got all rashy, and the whole thing was generally bad news.

My next step was to look into breast milk banks to see about acquiring alternative human milk for him (before you judge: just how well do you know the cows making milk for the local grocery store? I figure that at least we’re talking the same species here). Well, guess how much milk from a milk bank costs. Just guess…..Okay, so milk from a milk bank costs four dollars AN OUNCE. So after writing Alina a bill for three trillion dollars and talking with my insurance company who said that they would not cover the expense because Asher did not have a medical need (no, just the lady who MAKES the stuff), I looked into other resources. I found two, well, actually three.

1: Friends who know people who lactate 2: milkshare.com 3: Eats on Feets. The latter two are organizations designed to connect moms in need of donor milk with women willing to donate milk. Through these three channels I have been able to find four generous and kind women who have agreed to provide milk for Asher. They have also provided me with copies of their pertinent medical tests and patiently answered all of my many questions (there are questionnaires to guide moms through what to ask potential donors).

Now my freezers are stuffed with milk for Buddy, and we’ve been able to take on the weaning process. *FYI for those still concerned, we follow the recommended procedures for flash pasteurizing Asher’s donor milk to kill potentially harmful viruses or bacteria. This surely degrades some of the amazing health benefits of breast milk, but it seemed to be a reasonable and responsible compromise versus formula feeding. Check out this video if you too want to learn how to flash pasteurize for some such reason.

**Second FYI, no I can’t find donors who are gluten, dairy, and nut free AND other mothers do things like take medication or drink caffeine GAK! The loss of control has me reeling, but I’m trying to be very zen about it all. That said, Asher has developed a white coating with a big white spot on his perfect formerly-pink tongue since starting donor milk, any suggestions? (I don’t think it’s thrush by the way, but what do I know?).

Weaning has been a series of fits and starts (Ha! I so did not mean for that to be a pun, but I guess it is. Yuck. I don’t even like puns. Anyway, moving on). At first we started with night weaning and after a bunch of sad and screamy nights it seemed to be going pretty well. Then Asher got the cold that Eva and Alina had. That put the kibosh on the weaning and he was back to nursing at night.

He never really took a bottle, but we were able to get him to consider using a sippy cup. He was taking in about 6 oz. of donor milk each day, and nursing the rest of the time. Over the past few weeks we have worked his donor milk intake up to 25-30 oz. per day, although he was still nursing once or twice a night.

Last night, Rich and I finally got our acts together enough to flash pasteurize milk and set it on ice in our room in anticipation of Asher waking up. I warmed the milk in our sink and fed Asher that when he woke up at 2:30am rather than nursing him, and voila! Just like that it’s been almost two whole days since I’ve nursed.

I’m not ready for it. I knew that in a way I would probably never be totally ready to wean my last baby because it means closing a chapter on a very special and unique aspect of mothering. I really was not prepared for it to happen so soon or for this reason. That said, I feel confident in my decision. I know in my heart that if the adult Asher was talking to me right now he’d say, “Mom, I’ll be okay. Take care of yourself.” That doesn’t mean that I don’t still have tears streaming down my cheeks as I write this.

I will note though that it hasn’t been all bad. For 10.5 months Asher has almost always fallen asleep nursing. Whenever he is tired or hungry he makes a rather violent horizontal dive bomb for my chest to make his desires known. Since the weaning process has progressed, Asher has stopped diving to nurse when tired. He now cuddles his head against my shoulder, a move that he had previously reserved for Rich. Now, after I give him his sippy of milk before bed or naps, I stand up and hold him. He snuggles into me and I get to kiss his head and tell him how much I love him, before putting him down to sleep. It’s not the same as nursing him to sleep, but it is still loving and special, and I know that he feels cared for by his mom. I’ll take that.

That all got way longer than I’d planned. Sorry. According the MyLifeline.org, I’m supposed to try to end on an entertaining and uplifting note. Here, I like this. Enjoy.

-C

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As a final note, I cannot possibly post this without extending a very heartfelt thank you to the many mothers who fed my son when I could not. It was the greatest possible gift that we could have received at that time; making it easier to do something very difficult. I will never forget it.

I wanted to share this story that I came across today. It is from a mother who donated milk as a way to connect with, and honor the baby whom she lost (I do not know this woman, only her story). Donation is a beautiful and special gift from child-to-child and from mother-to-mother.

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Crunchy Parent’s Ultimate Guide to Crunchy-Friendly Subscription Boxes-Fall 2015 Update

For those seeking subscriptions for organic, eco-friendly, non-toxic, green beauty, food-allergy friendly, pregnant, new baby, fair trade, indie, and other crunchy awesomeness.

For those seeking subscriptions for organic, eco-friendly, non-toxic, green beauty, food-allergy friendly, pregnant, new baby, fair trade, indie, and other crunchy awesomeness.

Crunchy, green living is on the rise, and there has been tremendous growth in the area of natural, conscious, and otherwise crunchy subscription box offerings. The Fall update of the Crunchy Parent Ultimate List of Crunchy-Friendly Subscription Boxes follows. All subscription services that are new or new-to-me since the summer update have been indicated in bold. If you are wondering how I came to compile this list, keep reading. If you just want to get right to the list, scroll on down.

As I mentioned briefly in this post I have been making conscious attempts to make self-care a higher priority in the last several years. Parenting can be all-consuming, at least it has been for me many times, and I tended to seriously neglect myself. My cancer diagnosis almost five years ago was a wake up call that I absolutely needed to take better care of myself mentally and physically if I wanted to be able to continue to be a good parent to my children, and to live a healthier and more balanced life. I also wanted to feel better about myself and how I presented myself to the world. Realistically, I still was not going to have oodles of “me” time, and being able to get away from home to do things alone is even more challenging.

Moreover, although I had been interested in naturally-based personal care items since I was a teenager, my diagnosis shifted green beauty from an interest to an absolute non-negotiable. Skincare, haircare, body care, and cosmetic products simply had to be no- or low-toxin for me to use them. I would rather go without than slather myself with ingredients that might make it harder to stay healthy, but I really didn’t know where to begin. My skincare products had distilled down to aloe gel, shea butter, and coconut oil and they just weren’t cutting it. So, I decided that one aspect of my self-care plan would be to join some monthly subscription services.

Just in case you’re unfamiliar, subscription services send out a “mystery” package (usually monthly) of products in sample or full sizes for you to try that fit within a certain theme such as eco-friendly beauty and skincare products, or gluten free snacks. I figured that by joining a service, I would get a special package (or more) each month just for me with products to encourage me to pamper myself. It would also help me discover new natural, organic, or otherwise eco-friendly products that had already been screened and curated by companies with values like my own. Once I got my boxes, I could have some R&R time with a new face mask after the kids went to bed at night, or if I had an occasion when I might want to wear lipstick, I might actually own one that I felt good about using. I have been receiving subscription boxes for almost two years now, and I must say that it has been great! Not only have I been enjoying receiving amazing green beauty items, but I have found boxes to promote mindfulness and balance in my life, to support my yoga practice, to discover new food-allergy friendly foods for our family, and more.

I personally found it overwhelming at first to select a couple of subscriptions to try. I always want to know all of my options to allow for informed decisions. Additionally, there are countless services available, with many different target markets and missions. There are new subscriptions being introduced and old ones phasing out all of the time. I decided to put my well-honed research skills to work (they didn’t give me that Ph.D. for nothing), and compile the most comprehensive list that I could of subscription boxes that represent values or areas of interest that are consistent with living a crunchy, natural, green lifestyle.

I thought that I would try to save you some of the trouble that I went through. I have compiled the most comprehensive list of subscription services currently available that may appeal to people of the crunchy mindset; wherever they may be along the crunchy continuum or whichever aspect of crunchiness is important to them. I have tried to include beauty and lifestyle boxes that might be organic, or vegan; that might be eco-friendly, GMO-free, or support charities. Food boxes might be gluten, nut, and/or dairy free. They may feature organic or non-GMO products, or provide pre-packaged produce all ready to juice for your next cleanse or to boost a new health practice. I’ve listed herbal boxes, essential oil boxes, fair trade boxes, and eco-friendly boxes for the expecting or new mama. Boxes for children likely feature organic products, high-quality wooden/battery-free toys, or promote natural handmade crafts, storytelling, and more. There is even a toy rental subscription service included. Some of the subscription services are large and well-established. Others are small, limited, indie subscriptions or may be just starting out. In any case, I hope that you will find what you are looking for.

For the sake of brevity I have included shipping information assuming shipping in the United States. Many of these companies may send boxes elsewhere for an additional cost. Please see individual sites for information. I have attempted to screen companies to most closely adhere to natural personal and family living ideals, but I cannot speak to the specifics of any individual subscription, nor am I recommending any of these services over any other. I am attempting to sample and review as many of these subscriptions as possible to allow for a more in-depth look at what each service provides. Wherever possible, I have included a link to my unboxing and reviews following a subscription’s description. If you have any personal experiences that you wish to share, or if you know of any subscriptions that you think should be added to this list, please mention it in the comments.

To see all of my crunchy subscription box reviews, look here. If you wish to exclusively view the video unboxings, you can do that on my YouTube channel here.

Beauty/Lifestyle

BabeBoxx $24.99/month includes free shipping. Discount on multi-month subscriptions. Focused on skincare, cosmetic, and grooming items, BabeBoxx goes for the products that are, all-natural, organic, hand-made, and free from the harmful toxins and chemicals. Their goal is to guide you through a unique and exciting journey to natural beauty! This recently-launched indie subscription partners with artisans to bring the newest products to their subscribers.

Bare Bliss Box $19.99/month (free shipping) Discounts with multi-month subscriptions. In every box get 4-6 “healthier” sample-sized skincare and makeup products that will nourish your body and enhance your life, with occasional bonus lifestyle items. BBB screens products for ingredients such as artificial fragrances and dyes, parabens, SLS, and other potentially harmful chemicals. They also emphasize products that are cruelty-free and organic.

Beauty Heroes $39.99/month includes shipping. Less with multi-month subscriptions.The Beauty Heroes mission is to provide their customers with products from the very best non-toxic, clean, green beauty brands. Each month Beauty Heroes sends one full size luxury product, sometimes with a smaller bonus item (because every superhero loves a good sidekick). Products are chosen to fit with the season, and are screened to avoid an impressive laundry list of villain ingredients; and to include natural superpower ingredients to nurture your skin. For my Beauty Heroes reviews, look here.

Blissmo Box $19.95/month plus shipping, free shipping with multi-month subscriptions. Value of $20-$40+ per box. A monthly box of premium organic, non-toxic and eco-friendly personal care and food products. Full & trial-size. Allows choice among three themed box offerings each month (usually a food, beauty/personal care, and seasonal themes). Also allows for skipping a month if none of the themes seem to be a good fit.

BuddhiBox $32.95/month. Less with multi-month subscriptions. Box contains 4-6 full size items to enhance your yoga practice and lifestyle. BuddhiBox is committed to supporting non-profits. Most of the items featured are organic and vegetarian, and a brief questionnaire also allows the purchaser to indicate a preference for vegan items if desired. Each month BuddhiBox picks a charity and donate a portion of the proceeds from the sale of the boxes to them. They also offer a smaller sampler box for $11.95/month, and a jewelry box for $49.95/quarter. To see my BuddhiBox reviews, look here.

Calmbox $35/month, shipping included. Each month’s box features 4-8 mindfully chosen items to help with unwinding and calm such as candles, natural minerals and crystals, aromatic herbs, inspiring books, music, tea, motivational cards, and physical aids. Every month highlights a new theme like meditation, zen, or mindfulness.

Causebox Ships quarterly. $49.95 per shipment and includes shipping. You will receive at least $150 worth of full-size products for women from Sevenly’s favorite socially conscious brands. Each box also includes a new, exclusive Sevenly product. For every box sold, Sevenly gives $7 to one of 7 partner charities. Additionally, the box features products from companies that are committed to doing good all over the world. Some give one-for-one, some give meals, some medical aid, others give money to help various causes.

Conscious Box $40.00/month including shipping for the newly launched “Premium” version. Conscious Box had historically offered smaller boxes along the themes of classic, vegan, or gluten free. Boxes typically included small sample sizes of mostly food and supplement items with 1-2 full sized products. In their new re-branding, all boxes will be vegan and gluten free and contain more full-size and luxury items including stylish home items, delicious snacks, and lush beauty products hand-selected from brands who care about the planet. Conscious Box promises that every box will be valued at a minimum of $60.

Eco Salon This quarterly box is not a subscription, rather a first come, first served seasonal collection of food/nutrition, beauty, accessories, etc. There are generally pretty limited numbers of boxes available (around 50). Price and value varies but generally cost is $100+

Goddess Provisions $33.00/month with free shipping. Discounts with multi-month subscriptions. Goddess Provisions in a recently launched subscription service by the sister company to Vegan Cuts. Each month, GP sends a box filled with tools to nourish your inner goddess and grow your spiritual practice. Boxes feature a mix of 4-6 full size items, spanning across the categorizes of aromatherapy, apothecary beauty products, superfood snacks, teas, crystals, books and more. All items will be 100% vegan and cruelty-free. To see my Goddess Provisions reviews, look here.

Goodebox $19/month, including free shipping. Modest discounts offered for multi-month subscriptions. Goodebox is a trial and discovery service providing expertly curated, trial-sized healthy beauty and personal care products, along with samples of natural & organic health and wellness products. Each Goodebox includes a pre-screened selection representing what Goodebox thinks are among the best healthy beauty products available.

Hemp Box/Hemp Box for Men $19.99/month includes free shipping. Hemp Box features 5 health, beauty and nutritional products each month that contain hemp.

Herbal Bliss $25/month including free shipping. Discounts for multi-month subscriptions (e.g. an annual subscription drops to $18/month) Herbal Bliss contains an exclusively curated assortment of high quality herbal delights. Five items will be included each month, representing the categories of well-being, culinary, aromatherapy, blissful body, and “spotlight.” All suppliers are small-batch producers.

holBox $30/month. includes shipping. holBox is a subscription service for women who desire to live a holistic lifestyle. It is intended to serve as a starting point for women transitioning into a holistic lifestyle. Each box contains 5-7 different sample products, and will include products that you can use for the body, hair, mind and in the household.

Honest Beauty $50.00/month. The Honest Company has recently expanded its product and subscription line to include cosmetic and skincare items. Each month, select three full sized items of your choice from among the products in the line.

Klover Box $25/month free shipping. Discounts for multi-month subscriptions. Klover Box features natural, cruelty-free and organic beauty, health, nutrition and home products. Klover Box aims to provide opportunities to try affordable eco-friendly products, handpicked by their health conscious curators to allow the buyer to incorporate better products into every aspect of life. Each box features 4-7 sample and full sized products.

Love Goodly $35.00/box including shipping. Ships every other month. Cost per box is less with multi-box subscriptions. Each box includes 5-7 cruelty-free, natural, vegan products, including a mix of full size products and deluxe samples of nontoxic beauty and skincare, healthy snacks and eco style accessories. All products have been screened to eliminate Love Goodly’s banned ingredients and all products are selected and labeled to support one or more of Love Goodly’s values, which include organic, non-gmo, gluten free, and fair trade. Every purchase from Love Goodly supports either Farm Sanctuary or F*ck Cancer.

Mindfulness Box $29/month includes shipping. Discounts for multi-month subscriptions. A monthly subscription box service promoting wellness and reflection by giving people the tools to live with more intention and in the “present moment.” Boxes contain 4-5 items each month intended to promote mindfulness, meditation, and reflection. Offerings include holistic and homeopathic mineral/essential oil based health care products, handcrafted jewelry, delicious biodynamic treats, natural minerals/crystals evoking positive energy and MUCH more! To see my Mindfulnesss Box reviews, look here.

Nourish Beauty $34.95/month includes free shipping worldwide. Receive four full-sized products each month, including three full-sized, natural, earth-activated, cruelty-free, healthy beauty products, and one eco-friendly canvas tote bag, with limited edition, original print. Average total retail will be $70+

Organic Authority Goodie Box Organic Authority is a sister company to Eco Salon (see above) with a similar approach. They are not a regular subscription, rather a first come, first served seasonal collection of food/nutrition, beauty, accessories, etc. Numbers are quite limited. Price and value varies but generally cost is $100+

Petit Vour $15/month includes shipping. Petit Vour focuses on cruelty-free products, but tend to feature product lines that are also natural and organic. Petit Vour delivers 4-5 fresh beauty miniatures right to your doorstep each month. The samples are generously sized (and sometimes full-sized!)

PureBox $39.99/month (free shipping), less with multi-month subscriptions. Each box includes one full sized product and several deluxe samples from 1-2 featured brand per month. All products are ethically sourced and selected for being luxurious, of premium quality, cruelty free, and with gluten free and vegan choices. PureBox specializes in non-toxic, natural, and organic beauty products that are handcrafted and hard to find. Boxes will reflect a retail value of $60-$80. For PureBox reviews, look here

Prospurly $49.95/month includes shipping. Often run coupon codes for 10% off per month for the life of the subscription. Boxes feature 6-8 luxurious products each month that are artisinal and often organic. Items may be useful for home, beauty or personal care; food, beverages, and more.

Pumeli $49.95/month, less with multi-month subscriptions. Pumeli is a monthly delivery of relaxing goodies for busy women. Their mission is to inspire women to unplug and make time for themselves through practical tips, tutorials, and time-slowing rituals that are simple enough to do at home or the office, yet leave you feeling relaxed, recharged and present in as little as 5-10 minutes. Pumeli likes to feature products that are sustainable and handmade, and every box will include teas, items for journaling or reflection, and handcrafted items such as candles or handcrafted jewelry.

The Remedy Rush $59.00/quarterly box includes shipping. (boxes ship around the seasonal equinox). Discount for annual subscription. Each box includes a collection of seasonally-appropriate items for skincare, body care, and home. Products are screened to exclude a host of harsh irritants and health-compromising synthetics. Only the finest wildcrafted or organic herbs, herbal extracts, pure essential oils, cold-pressed, fruit, nut oils and butters are chosen as key ingredients in cherished brand creations. All products are cruelty-free, and all product containers, packaging, shipping, and marketing materials are made from 100% recyclable and/or biodegradable components.

Sapphire Soul Balance Box Sapphire Soul offers 5 different box configurations ranging from “Crystal Pack” of 1 or more crystals at a price of $9/month to “Large Lotus Balance Box” at $52/month which features a crystal, essential oil, a piece of handmade crystal healing jewelry, and one or more additional products (soaps, candles, and aromatherapy products tend to be featured frequently). Overall the box highlights holistic products to nurture mind, body, and soul; striving to increase balance and positive energy. Prices do not include shipping.

Teens Turning Green Conscious Collection Not an auto-billing subscription, but a first come, first served single purchase box available in limited quantities, and sometimes comes in both “male” and “female” versions. Cost is $75/box plus $20 shipping. The box includes Approximately 20 deluxe and full size items per collection. Each box highlights thoughtfully curated, ethically-produced products across many lifestyle categories. Product selections are based on health of ingredients, environmental impact, efficacy, and verified standards like USDA Certified Organic, non-GMO, Fair Trade, and data from the Environmental Working Group. Proceeds from the box benefit the Teens Turning Green non-profit organization.

Terra Bella Box Offering two levels of subscriptions for $17.95/month or $37.95/month respectively (shipping included and less with multi-month subscriptions). Terra Bella box features products that are created in small batches by small businesses, are always cruelty free, and are made with natural ingredients. The Terra Bella Lite box offers 2-3 products per month, and the full-sized Terra Bella Box offers 5-6 products per month. Items include skincare, body care, and cosmetics, and are a mix of full size and trial size items, with the majority being full sized. For those who like to try before making a larger commitment, Terra Bella offers a one-time Trial Box option for $24.00 and includes 4-6 items.

The Cosmic Box Cost is $27/month including shipping. Discounts for multi-month subscriptions. Items for this indie box are chosen for being crafted with spirit, eco-consious, and cosmically good. Boxes include items from various artisans and also feature products from Wild Honey Apothecary, the sister company of The Cosmic Box. Boxes feature a mix of 3-6 trial size or full size goods and include everything from toxin-free skin care, organic/gmo-free artisan edibles, unique home goods, gems, jewelry, and more. A portion of the proceeds from each month’s boxes go to a charity, which varies from month to month. To see my reveiws of The Cosmic Box, look here.

The Simple Soap Cost is $19.99/month for a three bar box or $14.99/month for a two bar option. Shipping included free. The Simple Soap is a family-owned indie subscription box service that sends out their own organic, handmade bars of soap. Their soaps are scented with essential oils and plant materials, and do not contain artificial perfumes or other additives. According to The Simple Soap, a single bar of soap will usually be enough for one person for an entire month.

Truly Organic $55/month (shipping included). Each month’s box will include six full-size products from Truly Organic’s natural hair care and body care line consisting of shampoo, conditioner, scrub or body wash, lotion, face cream and a surprise accessory from the country your ingredients were harvested. Truly Organic offers several collections, including lines for mother and baby. All products are natural, organic, vegan, and fair trade as well as being free of sulfates, GMOs, and gluten.

Vegan Cuts $19.95/month included shipping. Modest discount for multi-month subs. Vegan cuts features 100% cruelty-free brands, many of which are also natural and organic. Each box contains 4-7 full and sample-sized products to try, ranging from unique cosmetics to luxurious skincare.

Yogi Surprise $35.96/month with free shipping. Each box features 6-8 full-size products designed to nourish and support your well being, vitality and growth. Items include pure, natural, and handcrafted goodies that are vegetarian, cruelty, and GMO free.

Yuzen $33/quarter includes shipping. Yuzen strives to include only the very best eco-conscious products to nourish the body and soul. Each beautiful box includes high-quality natural and organic personal care products, healthy snacks, and lifestyle items carefully chosen from about 6 companies.

Food

Cuisine Cube $34.99/month includes shipping. Discounts with multi-month subscriptions. Each monthly box features at least five exciting full-sized gluten-free breakfast, lunch, snack, dinner, and dessert items. Cuisine Cube tries to introduce lesser-known artisanal brands. Some products are certified gluten free, others use only gluten-free ingredients but are not certified gluten free. Many products are certified organic and CC strives to avoid GMOs and artificial ingredients.

Farmivore products Three box sizes range from $25.95-$69.95, which includes shipping. Farmivore sends boxes filled with all that you need to make blended or juiced drinks using only organic, GMO-free, fresh fruits and vegetables, herbs and spices. Subscriber can select delivery frequency and either all-green juice boxes or “mixed” boxes with green, red, and orange juices featured. Produce will be sent bagged with recipes to create each of the juices featured in that shipment, and each box makes between 4-16 servings of juice depending on box size. Currently Farmivore ships to eight states in the Northeast.

Farm To People Tasting Box Two tiers of subscriptions (Casual Foodie-$29.95/month and Food Critic: $49.95/month both of which include shipping). Boxes include 2-3 or 5-8 full size products respectively. Items included will be unique, humanely made food items that are locally produced in small batches. All foods are GMO free. FTP also advertise that they are happy to accommodate any serious food allergies or dietary restrictions if you email them directly. Each box centers around a theme. Past themes have included Oktoberfest, Heat Things Up, Turkey Day, among others.

Green Blender $49/week shipping included. Each box brings you pre-portioned and individually wrapped ingredients to make 10 servings of blended smoothie drinks (2 servings each or five different recipes). Boxes include fruits, vegetables, superfoods, and whatever else you need to make a week’s worth of smoothies (you just provide the blender and the water). Produce is organic, local, and seasonal whenever possible. Currently Green Blender delivery area covers approximately a dozen states throughout the Northeast.

Healthy Surprise Offer three subscription options: Classic Box, Big Box, and Paleo Box. Boxes range from 15-21 full size snacks and are priced from $49-$74 depending on subscription option. Multi-month subscriptions are discounted. All items are gluten, soy, corn, wheat, and GMO free. Paleo box also does not contain any refined sugar, grains, dairy, or legumes, but may contain some items with honey, eggs, or high quality meat or fish. Classic Box and Big Box are 100% vegan.

Love with Food Offers three subscription options (Tasting Box, Deluxe Box, and Gluten Free Box) ranging in price from $12-$29/month, shipping included. Discounts for multi-month subscriptions. Designed to help you discover new organic or all-natural snacks. Boxes feature between 8-20 snack items depending on subscription type. Snacks are either organic or all-natural, GMO-free, gluten-free or free of artificial junk. All snacks in the Gluten-Free box are guaranteed to be gluten free. For every box sold, Love with Food donates a meal to several food banks such as the Feeding America Network and Share Our Strength – No Kid Hungry.

NoMoo Box $20/month plus $5.49 shipping, less with multi-month subscriptions. Boxes include carefully selected dairy free foods, coupons, recipes, and the occasional surprise. Each month you will receive 6 to 9 items in your box, including some full size and some sample size dairy free products. You will also receive coupons from dairy free brands to help with the cost of a specialty diet. A portion of the proceeds from every box goes to donate dairy free foods to a local Food Bank for families in need of a dairy free diet.

Num-Nums Munch Box Offer Single Box ($21.99/month) or Double Box ($43.50/month) plush shipping. Each box available as either Gluten Free, Dairy Free, or Nut Free, although most snacks are selected to be top 8 allergen-free (dairy, egg, wheat, soy, peanuts, tree nuts, fish and shellfish) so the entire family can enjoy them. Single box contains 10 to 12 single-serving snacks, and double box includes 20-24 single-serving snacks. The assortment of snack items includes snack bars, chips, sweets, cookies and more. Although snacks are free of identified allergens, they may be manufactured in factories that process other ingredients.

Send Me Gluten Free $30/month includes free shipping. Discounts with multi-month subscriptions. Each box will include 8-12 gluten free products and will include at least 1 full-sized item. Product selection will include food, personal care items, supplements and household products that support a gluten free lifestyle.

Paleo Life Box $35/month shipping included. Less with multi-month subscriptions. Each box includes 8 to 10 snacks hand-picked from the best Paleo companies on the planet. Paleo Life likes to send a few of new discoveries each month in addition to several tried and true favorites.

Tasterie $25.00/month, includes shipping. Four box varieties (Gluten Allergy, Gluten and Dairy Allergy, Nut Allergy, and Top 8 Allergy). Each box includes 4-8 full and single-serving sized allergy-free foods. Nut allergy and Top 8 allergy foods are all confirmed to have been made in a nut-free facility.

Taste Guru $19/month plus shipping. Discounts for multi-month subscriptions. Each box contains a mix of full and single-serving sized gluten free food items. Around 10 items per box.

Trade As One $99/quarter 12-15 hand-picked, ethically sourced pantry products. Each box is seasonally themed and includes a broad range of items from everyday staples to fun discovery items. We also help you unpack the meaning of the items in your box with stories from producers, tasty recipes, and product highlights.

Urth Box Offer multiple sizes from Mini (4-5 products) to Large (20-24 products), which range in price from $9-$49/month, including shipping. Each box includes food and beverage items focused health. All boxes are offered in one of four varieties: Classic, Vegan, Gluten Free, or Diet. In addition to snacks, boxes may include “extras” from categories such as supplements, personal hygiene, hair and skin care, gourmet and more. Products will be full sized, although this may include single-serving items.

Vegan Cuts $19.95/month includes free shipping. Each box contains 7-10 full and sample sized vegan food and beverage items. Most products are also gluten free.

Health/Wellness

Natural Herbal Living Herb box + magazine PDF $48/month ($44/month recurring) Mini Herb box + magazine PDF $24/month ($22/month recurring) Will include ingredients to make several recipes shared in Natural Herbal Living Magazine including, but not limited to, the herb of the month, essential oil, flower essence, additional herbs, oils, bees wax, vinegar, honey, and other herbal goodies necessary to make the recipes of the month. This also includes a generous amount of the “herb of the month” to experiment with above and beyond the recipes included in the herb box. The value of the contents of the box will range between $50-60 in addition to the magazine PDF ($4 value). All of the ingredients will be responsibly sourced and organic whenever possible. If the herbs are not certified organic they will be ethically wildcrafted. No box will ever include gluten, nuts, corn, or dairy.

Essential Oil Wizardry Three levels of membership $20/month gets 1 blend; $49/month 3 items including an essential oil and a tincture; $87/month for 5 items including EO, tincture, and, massage oil plus a 10% off coupon. (Shipping included). Limited to just over 100 members.

Kings Road Apothecary $53.50/month plus shipping. Multi-month subscriptions include free shipping. Kings Road Apothecary in an indie sub sending handcrafted, small-batch, herbal-based products that often are seasonal in nature. Boxes are themed (e.g., pinon, lymphatic support, seaweed, salt & water, etc.) and include four full-sized products in each shipment. Items may include an herbal tincture, tea, body scrub, facial mask or cream, massage oil, and more. Due to the sustainable wildcrafting of the box ingredients only approximately 50 boxes are available each month. This is not a re-billing subscription. Boxes are available as single purchases or can be pre-purchased as a multi-month subscription. To see my Kings Road Apothecary reviews look here.

Pregnancy/New Baby/Mom/Home

16 minute club $35/box, less with multi-month subscriptions. The one-and-only home-delivery lactation support program focused on helping new nursing mothers meet their breastfeeding goals. Developed by IBCLC Wendy Wright 16 Minute Club boxes are designed to provide lactation support for roughly baby’s first year, starting with a prenatal box option. Each box includes a chapter of the 16 Minute Club breastfeeding handbook, as well as a collection of breastfeeding support products. Boxes ship every 6 weeks.

21 Bundles $39.99/month, shipping included. Discounts for multi-month subscriptions. Started by a woman who has served as a pre and post-natal yoga instructor, post-partum doula, Certified Lactation Educator Counselor and nanny, 21 Bundles sends all natural, toxin free products to delight new mom or mom-to-be. Boxes tailored for whatever stage of pregnancy or of baby’s first year and will include 5-8 full size items, with a total retail value of anywhere from $50-$80.

Andrea Schroeder Candle of the Month Club $120 for a 3-month membership. Includes shipping. Each month’s box includes a full size 10.5 oz. Andrea Schroder candle, a travel size candle, a signature notecard, and a special hand selected gift from Andrea Schroder. Candles are made from a blend of coconut, natural, and palm wax. They are non-toxic and free of toxins, artificial dyes, or colorants. Candles are scented with essential oils stabilized with a blend of natural oils. Candles and ingredients are not tested on animals.

Austin Lloyd $49.99/month includes shipping. Discounts for multi-month subscriptions. Each box includes 3-5 premium toys and at least one book catered to your child’s developmental level and gender (or gender neutral), focused on children ages birth to 3 years. All items are non-toxic and BPA-free. These are unique, high end toys that are not typically sold at large retail chains and come from brands like Haba, Plan Toys, Melissa & Doug, and Manhattan Toys among others. They are designed to be engaging and targeted at improving fine motor, cognitive, and social skills. No battery operated toys included.

Ecocentric Mom $24/shipment, shipping included. Ships every other month. Available in three box types (Pregnancy Box, Mom Box, Mom & Baby Box). Each box included 5-9 hand selected products that are gentle on your body and the earth. Items are natural, sustainable, organic, and ethical. Boxes feature a mix of large sample sizes and full size products. Items range from skincare, wellness, snacks, and more in the Mom Box to diapers, skin cream, and organic first food in the Mom & Baby box, to skincare, makeup, spa products, and more in the Pregnancy Box.

Homegrown Collective $39/month plus shipping. Price reduced and shipping free for multi-month subscriptions. Receive a seasonally appropriate, professionally curated box of products that deliver the satisfaction of living a more self-sufficient and sustainable lifestyle. Examples of past boxes include Home Remedies and Cure Alls, Kombucha, Detox in a Box, and The Beauty of Coconut. Boxes include instructions and all supplies needed to create one or more awesome DIY products with each box (may need to provide some basic supplies). Also teaches you how to become more self-sufficient/sustainable.

The Honest Company Offers several monthly themed bundles: Eco-Friendly Disposable Diapers & Wipes ($79.95/month), Essentials-items for home and body care ($35.95/month), Honest Health & Wellness-food based and quality supplements (($35.95/month), and Organic Infant Formula + dha ($119.95/bundle; buyer sets frequency). With the exception of the formula bundle, bundles are fully customized buy the buyer within each theme and specified quantity of items (for example, any 5 items/Essentials bundle; any 2 items/Health & Wellness bundle.

Children/Adolescents

Happy Hedgehog Post Cost $30/month for a la carte purchases, less with multi-month subscriptions. See site for options to Canada. In addition, HedgehogPost offers a Sibling Envelope add-on for $18 with extra materials to make multiples of the primary crafts featured if you have multiple children or if you just want more. A monthly indie envelope subscription featuring products for children and families to enhance their home, crafts, and nature tables. With a distinct focus on the handmade and natural, this subscription may be a good option for families who are familiar with, and appreciate a Waldorf schooling and play approach. Each month will include materials and instructions for one or more craft projects, a Zine featuring season-specific stories, recipes, bonus craft, and more, and a special gift often appropriate for play or to beautify a nature table. 10% of the purchase price of every box goes to support a different charity each month. To see my Happy Hedgehog Post reviews, look here.

Little PNuts Annual subscription required, no month-to month or single box option. $60/quarterly shipment if annual fee of $240 is paid up front. Shipping is included. Can also opt for $25/month payments for 12 months ($300 total), but will still only receive 4 quarterly boxes. Filled with engaging Eco Friendly & Organic Toys designed to encourage creative play and discovery (3-5 toys/shipment). Choose from three programs : Infant 0-12 Months, Toddler 1-3 Years or Preschool 3-6 Years. Partner with many trusted brands such as Haba, Kathe Kruse, Green Toys, Tegu and more.

Love Yourself First Now $29/month, shipping included. Discounts with multi-month subscriptions. Developed by a mother of two and school psychologist. LYFN is targeted for young women ages 14 and up, and is aimed at promoting self-esteem and developing a sense of self through appreciating one’s self rather than looking to others for validation. Each month’s box features a theme and includes 4-6 functional products like jewelry, makeup, accessories, and inspiration to LOVE YOURSELF FIRST-now. Products valued at $40-$60. To see my Love Yourself First-Now reviews, look here.

Magic Craft Box $65/box or $250/year. Magic Onions sends four seasonally-appropriate eco-friendly crafts per seasonal box, using all-natural craft materials. Craft projects echo Magic Onion’s emphasis on handmade treasures for the natural home. Crafts are intended to be done by kids or with kids.

Mindfulness Box Kids $29/month includes shipping. Discounts for multi-month subscriptions. Intended for children ages 3-12 years. This monthly box is aimed at teaching mindfulness to children, while promoting peace in themselves and the world around them. Each month is thoughtfully curated with hands-on activities, literature, meditations, a healthy snack and so much more to nurture your child’s heart and mind.

SparkBox Toys One Sparkbox every 4 weeks $34.99/month; 1 Sparkbox every 8 weeks $19.99/month. Two month minimum for membership. Designed for children ages 0-4 years, Sparkbox is all about the Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle. This toy rental subscription sends 4 age-appropriate, gently used toys to your child to enjoy for 4-8 weeks. When the fun is done, just sent the box back for more toys. Shipping both ways is included in the subscription price. Sparkbox will curate your box based on child’s age, but they allow members to review, edit, and fully customize their box if they desire. Toys are screened to be high-quality, unique, award-winners. Some may be plastic and/or require batteries (included), others are made from natural materials. SparkBox uses only eco and child-friendly sterilization solutions to clean their toys between shipments. All toys go through a 5-step cleaning process that includes surface cleaning, sterilization, disinfecting, inspection and vacuum sealing.

SwiggyDiggyDo $39.95/month. Discounts for multi-month subscriptions. Designed for children ages 6 months to four years, however currently box contents will only vary relative to clothing size so some items may be to hand down/gift or grow into depending on your child’s age. SDD seeks to find the best, eco-friendly products that are free of BPA, lead, bromine, phthalates and a bunch of other weird chemicals that companies decide to put into toys, clothing and basically everything else. You will get a custom designed, limited edition shirt for your kid. Along with the shirt, your box might include toys, crafts/activities, books, clothing, feeding items and more.

Whimsy Box $35 plus shipping. Multi-month subscriptions are discounted and include free shipping. In addition, they offer a Sibling Add-On option for $20 which includes the box contents minus the book if you wish to have duplicates for the sibling or if you already own the featured book and would like the additional items to enhance the story. Each month’s package features a book appropriate for children approximately ages preschool through age 8 years as well as several artisan and often handmade items related to the book’s theme to extend the story into the child’s play, as well as a few additional small extras such as stickers, organic treats, and post cards. Past items have included play silks, face masks, wooden figures, musical instruments and more, and often are made from natural materials. To see my Whimsy Kids reviews, look here.

Fair Trade/Handmade

Craftly Just launched and still in beta phase. $19.99/month plus shipping. A lifestyle subscription box for either men or women that features high quality products and handcrafted goods from independent artists, small businesses, and mid-to-large scale brands. Every month, subscribers receive a surprise box of 3-5 samples, full-sized items, and exclusive offers for home, beauty, grooming, tech, fashion, stationary, food, fitness, and more.

Fair Ivy $30/month. Currently monthly and multi-month subscriptions are full but you can request to be added to the wait list. Fair Ivy sends a handmade and hand wrapped gift each month. All items are created by individual US artists, with each month representing a single artist’s creations. Each gift you receive is vegan-friendly, and contains an information card with details of the artist’s process, background, or inspiration, so you can understand the time and care put into each hand-wrapped item. Past selections have included a single jewelry item, a purse or clutch, set of stationary, or selection of bath products.

Fair Treasure $35/month. Discounted for multi-month subs) FT hunts for the most amazing designs in home décor, jewelry, and other accessories, personally curating these finds for each month’s treasure boxes. Sometimes they even work collaboratively with artisan groups to develop and design unique products just for their boxes. Each box will contain at least $30 in retail value of ethically sourced treasures. Typically, your treasure box will contain 2-3 items. They will also include information on the people and communities who made your treasures and are benefiting from your purchase.

Fair Trade Friday $35/month plus shipping. Discounts for multi-month subscriptions. monthly membership club that delivers a box of 3-4 high quality items to your door by the first Friday of the month. The items in the box are often jewelry and accessory items, are fairly traded, and provide employment to women all over the world. 100% of the proceeds from each box goes to the empowerment of impoverished women.

GlobeIn Artisan Box $35/month, shipping free. Discounts for multi-month subscriptions. Each box includes 4-6 artisan-made products from around the world (a “globe in a box”) packaged in a Mexican palm leaf basket, as well as a story about the crafters whom you have supported with your purchase. In addition, GlobeIn just launched a new mini box called the Benefit Basket for $19.99/month, which will feature one lifestyle products per month in their signature Mexican basket. To see my GlobeIn Benefit Basket reviews, look here.

MakrBox $29/month MakrBox features handcrafted artisan goods from the Pacific Northwest. Each month subscribers receive 2-3 curated artisan made kitchen or home goods.

I hope that everyone can find something in the listing above that would be perfect to add a little crunchy delight to their mailbox own or to gift to someone else. If you know of a sub box that I missed that you think belongs in the list, please mention it in the comments.

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BuddhiBox Subscription Unboxing & Review: September 2015

Crunchy Parent BuddhiBox Unboxing & Review September 2015 picture

BuddhiBox is a lifestyle subscription service bringing mindful living products to use in your yoga practice and to enhance your life. Products are ethically source, cruelty-free, and created with intention. BuddhiBox is guided by the principles of discovery, union, and compassion; hoping to help you discover new products and for you share them with your community. In the spirit of compassion, BuddhiBox donates a portion of each box’s cost to a new charity each month. Every box includes 4-6 full-size items for $30.95/month (shipping included). There are discounts on multi-month subscriptions.

I purchased this box and all opinions are my own.

If you would like to see the live-action unboxing, please enjoy the video unboxing below. About 1/3 of the way through the video, the Universe decided to shine a spotlight on me, making me all glowy for the remainder of the video, so that was kind of special. If you would like to skip along to the closeup photos and review information, scroll right on down.

The box was well packaged in an outer shipping box. Everything arrived to me safely and intact, although I think that one item leaked somewhere along the way. I was really struck with BuddhiBox’s presentation. The box had several useful cards and inserts and the box itself was jam-packed with goodies.

BuddhiBox unboxing & review yoga card, co our hair & body butter; greenbeauty

The first insert that I saw was a yoga pose card. Each month BuddhiBox includes a “Yogicard” to highlight a single yoga pose. My card this month was Downward Facing Dog, a pose with which I am familiar and enjoy. I loved that the card had a cute illustration, described the benefits of the pose for the body, and gave step-by-step instructions for the correct form of the pose. I think that these Yogicads are fantastic, and intend to create a little deck that we can select from when we want to practice a pose or two after school or at other times when we want to be centered or grounded. I think that all three kids will enjoy using these cards, and I will look forward to using the cards with them. Other inserts included a pasta recipe from Ground 2 Table (more on that in a moment) and a the description card for the box contents, which also featured a nice quote from Paul Coelho. I appreciated that the description card not only listed the items included, a bit about them, and their values, but also indicated which items were vegan, organic, and/or cruelty-free. The card also highlighted Sgt. Pepper’s Friends, a dog rescue organization that is the recipient of this month’s charitable contributions.

Being the green beauty fan that I am, the first item that I grabbed out of the box was the Co-Pur Hair & Body Butter (7 oz., value $22.00). I could not find the product listed on the Co-Pur site, but I think that it is the same as this Hair Mask (ingredients, size, and pricing are all the same). Co-Pur is an up-and-coming green beauty brand whose products I have been beginning to collect and sample, so I was excited to see this included in the box. I think that a portion of the product must have leaked out at some point, because the jar was only about 2/3 full and when I weighted it it was less than 7 oz. even in the container. That said, the product inside smells great with lavender tempered a bit by the citrus scent of the bergamot. I have not yet tried it on my hair, but the blend of shea butter along with the coconut and avocado oils was fairly light on my skin, but very moisturizing. I think that this would be great for using after bath or shower, and I am looking forward to trying it as a deep-conditioning pre-treatment for my thick, dry hair before the Midwest winter takes hold.

BuddhiBox unboxing & review: organic spices, no sweat athletic detergent, essential oil headache relief

The next item that I pulled out of the box, was No Sweat detergent, specifically designed to remove stains and odor from your workout gear while protecting and preserving stretchy fabric (4 oz., value $6.00). I really like this product for a yoga-themed box. I personally am really sensitive to artificial fragrance, and the Sweet Freesia scent included was pretty strong. I don’t think that I’d do well with it right up against my sweaty skin when I workout. I was pleased to see a fragrance-free variety on the No Sweat website though so I may have to pick some of that up and give it a try.

Another item tucked into the box was a small packet of Ground 2 Table’s organic spice blend #9, an Italian spice blend that combines the basil, oregano, and rosemary (.07 oz., value $2.00). This spice blend was called for as an ingredient in the enclosed recipe for “Pasta alla Norma”. I like that Ground 2 Table has a mission to transform the way that we buy and use spices. They package all of their spices into single-use packets to promote the use of fresher, more flavorful spices in our food, and to encourage us as consumers to buy just what we need and eliminate excess and waste. I think this is admirable and know that I have spices in my cabinet that have probably been there longer than they should have been. That said, $2.00 for a single serving of spice blend would probably not be a sustainable price point for me to use on a regular basis versus the cost of fresh or larger multi-use, organic spices; not to mention the environmental cost of the single-serve plastic packaging. The pasta recipe that Ground 2 Table included for the box did include gluten and dairy, but with an easy swap to gluten free rice penne and leaving out the small bit of ricotta cheese called for in the recipe, we can all enjoy it. This may be on the menu here very soon.

Another small but mighty item hiding away in the box was The Ease Up headache and tension relief rollerball by The Essential Nest (10 ml., value $14.00). I have received products like this in past subscription boxes and I am happy to have another. The rollerball blends sweet almond oil with essential oils of peppermint, basil, and lavender to provide relief from headache pain and stress. I love keeping these in my purse (great for diaper bags too). When a headache strikes, I rub the oil on my temples or at the base of my head/neck. I also find that sniffing the rollerball can help settle an upset stomach (peppermint is good for that).

BuddhiBox yoga subscription-vegan gluten free macaroon, YogaAmytime.com free membership, Love reusable snack pouch

Some of my favorite items waited for the end of the unboxing. The Rickaroons macaroon was a happy discovery (single cookie, value $3.00). I love macaroons, but sometimes they are made with wheat flour or include dairy. These macaroons are vegan and gluten free and are nutritionally punched up with the addition of almond butter. Their “Megaroon” variety even adds ground chia seeds. We received the Chocolate Blonde variety, which was studded with big dark chocolate chips, much to the delight of Eva and myself who polished it off immediately following the unboxing. The cookie was dense and delicious. I could have gobbled the whole thing myself, but was happy to share. It always thrills the kids when we receive gluten free and casein free treats in subscription boxes that they can discover and enjoy as well. They are so used to being told that they can’t eat something due to its ingredients that they are really excited to be given the green light to try a treat.

The next thing that I grabbed was an absolutely adorable two-pack of Love Reusable Bags snack pouches (2 bag set, value $12.00). What an appropriate name, because I love these bags. We had made a decision to try to cut down on single-use plastic bag use in the children’s school lunches this year. We got each kid a set of reusable snack bags and have really liked using them not just for the children’s lunches but also to bring snacks along on weekend outings, so I was very grateful to receive another set. I think that the whale pattern that we received is very cute and I really appreciate that the bags are top-rack dishwasher safe and also have a band across the front to write the child’s name. They are a great size for sandwiches and snacks. Alina has already asked if she can adopt this set and re-assign her former set to “family weekend use.” This was a big hit with us.

The last item was a card with a unique code for 30 days of free, unlimited access to YogaAnytime.com (value $18.00). I have never tried an online yoga subscription service, but I am really excited to give this a go. I have been debating about joining a local recreation center or gym so that I can have access to additional classes, but the times and types of classes offered aren’t always a good fit for me. I really like the idea that anytime I want, I can just unroll my yoga mat at home and select the type of yoga class that I want to do. The classes vary based on the style of yoga, level of intensity of the practice, and length of the video, and even can be searched according to the area of the body that you wish to target (e.g., core, internal organs, or spine to name a few). I am particularly partial to Vinyasa yoga, and saw over 100 Vinyasa videos to choose from in addition to videos in other yoga styles and meditation videos as well. I will be starting my YogaAnytime practice this afternoon, and am very excited. I also plan to have Rich give the meditation videos a go since he likes meditation but often does not find the time to meditate on his own. I saw on their site that YogaAnytime.com is offering a free 15 day trial on their site at the moment if you didn’t get this month’s BuddhiBox and want to give it a try.

BuddhiBox yoga lifestyle subscription boc September 2015 complete unboxing and review

In total this month’s BuddhiBox had a product retail value of $77.00 in addition to the yoga card and recipe, which I think is fantastic. Given that this is my first BuddhiBox, I am not sure if this value is typical, but I can say that the box made a great first impression. I am really thrilled with the quality and variety of the items included in the box. Not every single item was a perfect match for me, but overall the box really hit it out of the park and we will get great use out of the majority of the goodies included. I discovered a number of new products and services and am excited about what the box had for me, for my kids, and for our whole family. I am looking forward to next month’s box and have a feeling that this box will be a new addition to our list of favorites.

What do you think of BuddhiBox? Are you as excited as I am to see the “crunchy, zen, mindful” subscription box market expanding?

To see other crunchy subscription box video unboxings, look here on the Crunchy Parent You Tube channel. If you are interested in finding “crunchy-friendly” subscription boxes to enhance the way you live, eat, craft, play, care for you home and body, etc. you can find that here. If you have any suggestions or requests for future videos or unboxings, please let me know in the comments, and be sure to subscribe to CrunchyParent!

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Quinoa Tabbouleh Recipe: Great Gluten Free Alternative

gluten free quinoa tabbouleh

Wow, this move has really been quite a process. I feel like the sea of boxes is never-ending. That said, I am incredibly grateful that we found our way to a new house. I love it and look forward to settling in over time.

Despite the move and the chaos and the upheaval, we’ve still got to eat (although full disclosure, I took these pictures while still in my parent’s house. I’m lucky if I can find a mixing bowl here at this point). This tabbouleh salad is a summer favorite of mine. It is not complicated to make; mostly chop and mix. It has great fresh summer flavors, highlighted by the lemon, parsley, and mint. I often bring it along to summer parties and pot lucks. Using quinoa in place of the traditional bulgur wheat makes this tabbouleh gluten free.

Many quinoa recipes use a higher water-to-quinoa ratio than this one, which I find results in a mushy quinoa. This ratio will yield fluffier grain (well, technically a seed). While we’re on the subject, if you are not familiar with cooking quinoa it is a little different than most other seeds and grains. Quinoa is naturally coated with saponins, which if left on can give cooked quinoa a bitter or otherwise unpleasant taste. The simple solution is to rinse the quinoa before cooking to remove the water-soluble saponins. I place my quinoa in a large glass measuring cup, cover with water, and stir around to rinse. I then strain using a fine strainer, and repeat the process until the soaking water is clear, not cloudy. If you can find a large strainer with a fine enough mesh, you can rinse directly in the strainer until the water runs clear and is not foamy at all. My larger strainers have larger mesh and the quinoa tends to escape. Do what works for you. Also, quinoa is a bit magical. After cooking, the little seed looks as though it has sprouted a tail. This is normal and should not be cause for alarm.

I like to minimize the juiciness of my ingredients in the recipe to avoid a mushy, watered down salad. I recommend using plum tomatoes and English (hothouse) cucumbers because they are less watery than traditional tomatoes and cucumbers. If you only have traditional versions on hand, remove the seeds before using and this will help to reduce liquid. Okay, on to the recipe.

My plum tomatoes were tiny so I snuck in an extra. Not pictured: water.

My plum tomatoes were tiny so I snuck in an extra. Not pictured: water.

Ingredients:

1 1/2 c. water
1 c. quinoa
pinch salt
1/4 c. olive oil
1/2 t. salt
1/4 c. lemon juice
1 t. lemon zest
4 plum tomatoes, diced
1 medium English cucumber, diced (or 1/2 of a large English cucumber as I have shown)
1 bunch green onions, diced
1 bunch fresh parsley (approximately 1 cup), chopped
1 small bunch fresh mint (approximately 1/3 cup), chopped

1. Rinse quinoa as directed above. Drain.
2. In a saucepan, bring the water and pinch of salt to a boil. Add rinsed quinoa and reduce flame to low to simmer. Cover and cook for 15 minutes. Remove from heat and allow to cool, covered. Once cooled to room temperature, remove cover and fluff with fork.
3. While quinoa cooks and cools, dice the tomatoes, cucumber and green onions; chop the parsley and mint. Add them all to a large bowl.

Veggies and herbs in the bowl. Tomatoes are trying to hide, can you see them?

Veggies and herbs in the bowl. Tomatoes are trying to hide, can you see them?

4. Top veggies and herbs with olive oil, and salt. Mix to coat.

Seasoning the quinoa tabbouleh

5. Wash and dry lemon. Since you’re eating the peel, it’s really ideal to use an organic lemon, if possible. Zest with microplane grater, removing just the outer yellow part, not the bitter white pith, to yield 1 t. zest. Add to bowl. Cut lemon in half and juice to yield 1/4 c. lemon juice. Add to bowl as well.

zested lemon

zested lemon

juiced lemon

juiced lemon

6. Add cooled quinoa to bowl. Realize that you’re going to need bigger bowl to mix it all without making a mess (this may only happen to me). Mix until thoroughly combined.

Gluten free quinoa tabbouleh recipe

7. Adjust seasoning as desired. Transfer back into pretty bowl, and enjoy!

gluten free quinoa tabbouleh

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My Bagel Smash Breakfast: Gluten Free, Dairy Free

Gluten free bagel toast smash

Has the toast smash craze swept it’s way to your neck of the woods? The basic premise is that toast tastes even more delicious if you pile a bunch of goodies on top, especially if one of those goodies in a smashed avocado. The idea has crept its way into my kitchen, but this time the avocado has selected a gluten free bagel as its canvas.

The recipe is very simple, and of course it is just one of countless bagel smash possibilities. The avocado’s healthy fats give a real boost to breakfast to help fuel the morning. So here we go.

Bagel Smash Ingredients

Ingredients:

1/2 bagel (I used Udi’s Gluten Free Whole Grain bagels)
2 eggs (I recommend organic if you can)
1/3 medium avocado
oil for frying
salt and or pepper to taste

Extra virgin olive oil is getting increasing attention as not being the best choice for high heat cooking applications. I love EVOO and use it in salad dressings and when roasting vegetables at lower temperatures, but for pan frying and other higher-temperature cooking I increasingly opt for grape seed oil or avocado oil, which can take higher temperatures before reaching their smoke point. I used grape seed oil in this recipe, but I think I would grab avocado oil next time, in keeping with the avocado theme of the smash. Any neutrally flavored oil of your preference will do here though.

The first thing that you’re going to want to do is toast your bagel half and fry your eggs with a sprinkle of salt, both to your desired preference. I like my bagel light-to-medium and my eggs over easy-to-medium (I don’t like to be put in a box, what can I say)?.

Bagel Smash-frying eggs

While your eggs are frying, cut your avocado in half along the north and south poles (I used to think that this instruction was superfluous until I saw my husband cut avocados along the equator. It threw my entire Universe out of whack so I have since made it a life’s mission to promote correct avocado slicing). Moving along, scoop or slice out some of your avocado half and smoosh the avocado onto the bagel.

Bagel smash-avocado smooshing

Now you take those perfectly fried eggs and place them atop your bagel.

Bagel smash-eggs in place

Adjust salt and pepper and with great ceremony, pierce the yolks and smear them all around the top of the eggs (best part!) Dig in and enjoy. Easy right?

Bagel Smash-bite

So what are your favorite toast or bagel smashes? I’m always looking for new ideas.

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Summer Update: Crunchy Parent List of Crunchy-Friendly Subscription Boxes

For those looking for subscriptions for organic, eco-friendly, non-toxic, food-allergy friendly, pregnant, new baby, fair trade, indie, and other awesomeness

For those looking for subscriptions for organic, eco-friendly, non-toxic, food-allergy friendly, pregnant, new baby, fair trade, indie, and other awesomeness

**I wanted to update my original Crunchy-Friendly Subscription Box List to add new or “new-to-me” boxes that have come into my consciousness since then and to delete those subscriptions that are no longer available. I have bolded all of the listings that are new to this update for ease in finding them.**

As I mentioned briefly in this post I have been making conscious attempts to make self-care a higher priority in the last several years. Parenting can be all-consuming, at least it has been for me many times, and I tended to seriously neglect myself. My cancer diagnosis was a wake up call that I absolutely needed to take better care of myself mentally and physically if I wanted to be able to continue to be a good parent to my children. I also wanted to feel better about myself and how I presented myself to the world. Realistically, I still was not going to have oodles of “me” time, and being able to get away from home to do things alone is even more challenging.

Moreover, skin, haircare, and cosmetic, and body care products simply had to be no- or low-toxin for me to use them. I would rather go without than slather myself with ingredients that might make it harder to stay healthy, but I really didn’t know where to begin. My skincare products had distilled down to aloe gel, shea butter, and coconut oil and they just weren’t cutting it. So, I decided that one aspect of my self-care plan would be to join some monthly subscription services. Just in case you’re unfamiliar, subscription services send out a “mystery” package (usually monthly) of products in sample or full sizes for you to try that fit within a certain theme such as eco-freindly beauty and skincare products, or gluten free snacks. I figured that by joining a service, I would get a special package (or more) each month just for me with products to encourage me to pamper myself. It would also help me discover new natural, organic, or otherwise eco-friendly products that had already been screened and curated by companies with values like my own. Once I got my boxes, I could have some R&R time with a new face mask after the kids went to bed at night, or if I had an occasion when I might want to wear lipstick, I might actually own one that I felt good about using. I have been receiving subscription boxes for over a year now, and I must say that it has been great!

I personally found it overwhelming at first to select a couple of subscriptions to try. There are countless services available, with many different target markets and missions. There are new services being introduced and old ones phasing out all of the time. I thought that I would try to save you some of the trouble that I went through. I have compiled a fairly comprehensive list of subscription services currently available that may appeal to people of the crunchy mindset, wherever they may be along the crunchy continuum or whichever aspect of crunchiness is important to them. I have tried to include beauty and lifestyle boxes that might be organic, or vegan; that might be eco-friendly, GMO-free, or support charities. Food boxes might be gluten, nut, and/or dairy free. They may feature organic or non-GMO products, or provide pre-packaged produce all ready to juice for your next cleanse or to boost a new health practice. I’ve listed herbal boxes, essential oil boxes, fair trade boxes, and eco-friendly boxes for the expecting or new mama. Boxes for children likely feature organic products, high-quality wooden toys, and are battery-free. There is even a toy rental subscription service included. Some of the subscription services are large and well-established. Others are small, limited, indie subscriptions or may be just starting out. In any case, I hope that you will find what you are looking for.

For the sake of brevity I have included shipping information assuming shipping in the United States. Many of these companies may send boxes elsewhere for an additional cost. Please see individual sites for information. I cannot speak to the specifics of any individual subscription, nor am I recommending any of these services over any other. In truth, I have received just a small percentage of these boxes personally, but I wanted to provide a resource. If you have any personal experiences that you wish to share, or if you know of any subscriptions that you think should be added to this list, please mention it in the comments.

To see my crunchy subscription box video unboxing and photo reviews, look here:

Beauty/Lifestyle

BabeBoxx $24.99/month includes free shipping. Discount on multi-month subscriptions. Focused on skincare, cosmetic, and grooming items, BabeBoxx goes for the products that are, all-natural, organic, hand-made, and free from the harmful toxins and chemicals. Their goal is to guide you through a unique and exciting journey to natural beauty! This recently-launched indie subscription partners with artisans to bring the newest products to their subscribers.

Bare Bliss Box in every box get 4-6 “healthier” sample-sized skincare and makeup products that will nourish your body and enhance your life, with occasional bonus lifestyle items. BBB screens products for ingredients such as artificial fragrances and dyes, parabens, SLS, and other potentially harmful chemicals. They also emphasize products that are cruelty-free and organic. $19.99/month (free shipping) Discounts with multi-month subscriptions.

Blissmo Box $19.95/month plus shipping, free shipping with multi-month subscriptions. Value of $20-$40+ per box. A monthly box of premium organic, non-toxic and eco-friendly personal care and food products. Full & trial-size. Allows choice among three themed box offerings each month (usually a food, beauty/personal care, and seasonal themes). Also allows for skipping a month if none of the themes seem to be a good fit.

BuddhiBox $30.95/month. Less with multi-month subscriptions. Box contains 4-6 full size items to enhance your yoga practice and lifestyle. BuddhiBox is committed to supporting non-profits. Most of the items featured are organic and vegetarian, and a brief questionnaire also allows the purchaser to indicate a preference for vegan items if desired. Each month BuddhiBox picks a charity and donate proceeds from the sale of the boxes to them. They also offer a smaller sampler box for $11.95/month, and a jewelry box for $49.95/quarter.

Calmbox $35.00/month includes shipping. This newly launched monthly subscription box will send you 4-8 mindfully chosen items to help with unwinding and calm: candles, natural minerals and crystals, aromatic herbs, inspiring books, music, tea, motivational cards, physical aids, and more. A new “calm” theme such as zen, meditation, or mindfulness will be reflected in each month’s box.

Causebox Ships quarterly. $49.95 per shipment and includes shipping. You will receive at least $150 worth of full-size products for women from Sevenly’s favorite socially conscious brands. Each box also includes a new, exclusive Sevenly product. For every box sold, Sevenly gives $7 to one of 7 partner charities. Additionally, the box features products from companies that are committed to doing good all over the world. Some give one-for-one, some give meals, some medical aid, others give money to help various causes.

Conscious Box $40.00/month including shipping for the newly launched “Premium” version. Conscious Box had historically offered smaller boxes along the themes of classic, vegan, or gluten free. Boxes typically included small sample sizes of mostly food and supplement items with 1-2 full sized products. In their new re-branding, all boxes will be vegan and gluten free and contain more full-size and luxury items including stylish home items, delicious snacks, and lush beauty products hand-selected from brands who care about the planet. Conscious Box promises that every box will be valued at a minimum of $60.

Eco Salon This quarterly box is not a subscription, rather a first come, first served seasonal collection of food/nutrition, beauty, accessories, etc. There are generally pretty limited numbers of boxes available (around 50). Price and value varies but generally cost is $100+

Goodebox $21/month, including free shipping. Discounts offered for multi-month subscriptions. Goodebox is a trial and discovery service providing expertly curated, trial-sized healthy beauty and personal care products, along with samples of natural & organic health and wellness products. Each Goodebox includes a pre-screened selection representing what Goodebox thinks are among the best healthy beauty products available.

Hemp Box/Hemp Box for Men $19.99/month includes free shipping. Hemp Box features 5 health, beauty and nutritional products each month that contain hemp.

Herbal Bliss $25/month including free shipping. Discounts for multi-month subscriptions (e.g. an annual subscription drops to $18/month) Herbal Bliss contains an exclusively curated assortment of high quality herbal delights. Five items will be included each month, representing the categories of well-being, culinary, aromatherapy, blissful body, and “spotlight.” All suppliers are small-batch producers.

holBox $30/month. includes shipping. holBox is a subscription service for women who desire to live a holistic lifestyle. It is intended to serve as a starting point for women transitioning into a holistic lifestyle. Each box contains 5-7 different sample products, and will include products that you can use for the body, hair, mind and in the household.

Klover Box $25/month free shipping. Discounts for multi-month subscriptions. Klover Box features natural, cruelty-free and organic beauty, health, nutrition and home products. Klover Box aims to provide opportunities to try affordable eco-friendly products, handpicked by their health conscious curators to allow the buyer to incorporate better products into every aspect of life. Each box features 4-7 sample and full sized products.

Level Naturals Three tiers of boxes ranging from The Good Box at $14.95/month to The Good(est) Box at $49.95/month (prices do not include shipping). Level is a vegan, gluten and cruelty free, all natural company. Certified by Peta and Leaping Bunny, 100% made in the USA. All boxes feature selections from Level Natural’s own bath/body products and candle lines.

Mindfulness Box $29/month includes shipping. Discounts for multi-month subscriptions. A monthly subscription box service promoting wellness and reflection by giving people the tools to live with more intention and in the “present moment.” Boxes contain 4-5 items each month intended to promote mindfulness, meditation, and reflection. Offerings include holistic and homeopathic mineral/essential oil based health care products, handcrafted jewelry, delicious biodynamic treats, natural minerals/crystals evoking positive energy and MUCH more! To see my Mindfulnesss Box reviews, look here.

Organic Authority Goodie Box Organic Authority is a sister company to Eco Salon (see above) with a similar approach. They are not a regular subscription, rather a first come, first served seasonal collection of food/nutrition, beauty, accessories, etc. Numbers are quite limited. Price and value varies but generally cost is $100+

Petit Vour $15/month includes shipping. Petit Vour focuses on cruelty-free products, but tend to feature product lines that are also natural and organic. Petit Vour delivers 4-5 fresh beauty miniatures right to your doorstep each month. The samples are generously sized (and sometimes full-sized!)

Prospurly $49.95/month includes shipping. Often run coupon codes for 10% off per month for the life of the subscription. Boxes feature 6-8 luxurious products each month that are artisinal and often organic. Items may be useful for home, beauty or personal care; food, beverages, and more.

Sapphire Soul Balance Box Sapphire Soul offers 5 different box configurations ranging from “Crystal Pack” of 1 or more crystals at a price of $9/month to “Large Lotus Balance Box” at $52/month which features a crystal, essential oil, a piece of handmade crystal healing jewelry, and one or more additional products (soaps, candles, and aromatherapy products tend to be featured frequently). Overall the box highlights holistic products to nurture mind, body, and soul; striving to increase balance and positive energy. Prices do not include shipping.

Teens Turning Green Conscious Collection Not an auto-billing subscription, but a first come, first served single purchase box available in limited quantities, and sometimes comes in both “male” and “female” versions. Cost is $75/box plus $20 shipping. The box includes Approximately 20 deluxe and full size items per collection. Each box highlights thoughtfully curated, ethically-produced products across many lifestyle categories. Product selections are based on health of ingredients, environmental impact, efficacy, and verified standards like USDA Certified Organic, non-GMO, Fair Trade, and data from the Environmental Working Group. Proceeds from the box benefit the Teens Turning Green non-profit organization.

The Cosmic Box Cost is $29/month including shipping. Discounts for multi-month subscriptions. Items for this indie box are chosen for being crafted with spirit, eco-consious, and cosmically good. Boxes include items from various artisans and also feature products from Wild Honey Apothecary, the sister company of The Cosmic Box. Boxes feature a mix of 3-6 trial size or full size goods and include everything from toxin-free skin care, organic/gmo-free artisan edibles, unique home goods, gems, jewelry, and more. A portion of the proceeds from each month’s boxes go to a charity, which varies from month to month. For my reviews of The Cosmic box, look here.

The Simple Soap Cost is $19.99/month for a three bar box or $14.99/month for a two bar option. Shipping included free. The Simple Soap is a family-owned indie subscription box service that sends out their own organic, handmade bars of soap. Their soaps are scented with essential oils and plant materials, and do not contain artificial perfumes or other additives. According to The Simple Soap, a single bar of soap will usually be enough for one person for an entire month.

Vegan Cuts $19.95/month included shipping. Modest discount for multi-month subs. Vegan cuts features 100% cruelty-free brands, many of which are also natural and organic. Each box contains 4-7 full and sample-sized products to try, ranging from unique cosmetics to luxurious skincare.

With Love from Angela $24.99/month includes free shipping. Discounts with multi-month subscriptions. Each month’s box will deliver 4-5 carefully selected, all natural bath and skin care products and presents such as candles or accessories. Boxes will include a combination of WLFA’s own branded products as well as items from other brands that they deem to be terrific. They focus on products that are all natural and 100% quality.

Yogi Surprise $35.96/month with free shipping. Each box features 6-8 full-size products designed to nourish and support your well being, vitality and growth. Items include pure, natural, and handcrafted goodies that are vegetarian, cruelty, and GMO free.

Yuzen $33/quarter includes shipping. Yuzen strives to include only the very best eco-conscious products to nourish the body and soul. Each beautiful box includes high-quality natural and organic personal care products, healthy snacks, and lifestyle items carefully chosen from about 6 companies.

Food

Cuisine Cube $34.99/month includes shipping. Discounts with multi-month subscriptions. Each monthly box features at least five exciting full-sized gluten-free breakfast, lunch, snack, dinner, and dessert items. Cuisine Cube tries to introduce lesser-known artisanal brands. Some products are certified gluten free, others use only gluten-free ingredients but are not certified gluten free. Many products are certified organic and CC strives to avoid GMOs and artificial ingredients.

Emma’s Organics monthly (or bi-weekly) box subscription. You receive 2 large 8oz bags of granola a month $22.95 + $5.00 shipping or 4 large 8 oz bags every other week $44.95 + $10.00 shipping. The granola is 100% organic, non GMO, gluten free and dairy free. PLUS it is 100% SPROUTED!

Farmivore products Three box sizes range from $25.95-$69.95, which includes shipping. Farmivore sends boxes filled with all that you need to make blended or juiced drinks using only organic, GMO-free, fresh fruits and vegetables, herbs and spices. Subscriber can select delivery frequency and either all-green juice boxes or “mixed” boxes with green, red, and orange juices featured. Produce will be sent bagged with recipes to create each of the juices featured in that shipment, and each box makes between 4-16 servings of juice depending on box size. Currently Farmivore ships to eight states in the Northeast.

Farm To People Tasting Box Two tiers of subscriptions (Casual Foodie-$29.95/month and Food Critic: $49.95/month both of which include shipping). Boxes include 2-3 or 5-8 full size products respectively. Items included will be unique, humanely made food items that are locally produced in small batches. All foods are GMO free. FTP also advertise that they are happy to accommodate any serious food allergies or dietary restrictions if you email them directly. Each box centers around a theme. Past themes have included Oktoberfest, Heat Things Up, Turkey Day, among others.

Green Blender $49/week shipping included. Each box brings you pre-portioned and individually wrapped ingredients to make 10 servings of blended smoothie drinks (2 servings each or five different recipes). Boxes include fruits, vegetables, superfoods, and whatever else you need to make a week’s worth of smoothies (you just provide the blender and the water). Produce is organic, local, and seasonal whenever possible. Currently Green Blender delivery area covers approximately a dozen states throughout the Northeast.

Healthy Surprise Offer three subscription options: Classic Box, Big Box, and Paleo Box. Boxes range from 15-21 full size snacks and are priced from $49-$74 depending on subscription option. Multi-month subscriptions are discounted. All items are gluten, soy, corn, wheat, and GMO free. Paleo box also does not contain any refined sugar, grains, dairy, or legumes, but may contain some items with honey, eggs, or high quality meat or fish. Classic Box and Big Box are 100% vegan.

Love with Food Offers three subscription options (Tasting Box, Deluxe Box, and Gluten Free Box) ranging in price from $12-$29/month, shipping included. Discounts for multi-month subscriptions. Designed to help you discover new organic or all-natural snacks. Boxes feature between 8-20 snack items depending on subscription type. Snacks are either organic or all-natural, GMO-free, gluten-free or free of artificial junk. All snacks in the Gluten-Free box are guaranteed to be gluten free. For every box sold, Love with Food donates a meal to several food banks such as the Feeding America Network and Share Our Strength – No Kid Hungry.

My non-GMO box $14.99/box. Currently only offering boxes as single purchases, not as a re-billing subscription service. My Non-GMO Box contains an assortment of Non-GMO Project verified products from top-quality manufacturers. The first box, launched January, 2015 included 6 single-serving non-GMO snacks.

Num-Nums Munch Box Offer Single Box ($21.99/month) or Double Box ($43.50/month) plush shipping. Each box available as either Gluten Free, Dairy Free, or Nut Free, although most snacks are selected to be top 8 allergen-free (dairy, egg, wheat, soy, peanuts, tree nuts, fish and shellfish) so the entire family can enjoy them. Single box contains 10 to 12 single-serving snacks, and double box includes 20-24 single-serving snacks. The assortment of snack items includes snack bars, chips, sweets, cookies and more. Although snacks are free of identified allergens, they may be manufactured in factories that process other ingredients.

Send Me Gluten Free $30/month includes free shipping. Discounts with multi-month subscriptions. Each box will include 8-12 gluten free products and will include at least 1 full-sized item. Product selection will include food, personal care items, supplements and household products that support a gluten free lifestyle.

Tasterie $25.00/month, includes shipping. Four box varieties (Gluten Allergy, Gluten and Dairy Allergy, Nut Allergy, and Top 8 Allergy). Each box includes 4-8 full and single-serving sized allergy-free foods. Nut allergy and Top 8 allergy foods are all confirmed to have been made in a nut-free facility.

Trade As One $99/quarter 12-15 hand-picked, ethically sourced pantry products. Each box is seasonally themed and includes a broad range of items from everyday staples to fun discovery items. We also help you unpack the meaning of the items in your box with stories from producers, tasty recipes, and product highlights.

Urth Box Offer multiple sizes from Mini (4-5 products) to Large (20-24 products), which range in price from $9-$49/month, including shipping. Each box includes food and beverage items focused health. All boxes are offered in one of four varieties: Classic, Vegan, Gluten Free, or Diet. In addition to snacks, boxes may include “extras” from categories such as supplements, personal hygiene, hair and skin care, gourmet and more. Products will be full sized, although this may include single-serving items.

Vegan Cuts $19.95/month includes free shipping. Each box contains 7-10 full and sample sized vegan food and beverage items. Most products are also gluten free.

Yumvelope $21/month. Shipping free with multi-month subscriptions. Yumvelope highlights 100% natural, small-batch, artisanal food items from throughout the United States. Each shipment includes a minimum of six full-sized items, which may include snacks, drinks, desserts, and chocolates.

Health/Wellness

Natural Herbal Living Herb box + magazine PDF $48/month ($44/month recurring) Mini Herb box + magazine PDF $24/month ($22/month recurring) Will include ingredients to make several recipes shared in Natural Herbal Living Magazine including, but not limited to, the herb of the month, essential oil, flower essence, additional herbs, oils, bees wax, vinegar, honey, and other herbal goodies necessary to make the recipes of the month. This also includes a generous amount of the “herb of the month” to experiment with above and beyond the recipes included in the herb box. The value of the contents of the box will range between $50-60 in addition to the magazine PDF ($4 value). All of the ingredients will be responsibly sourced and organic whenever possible. If the herbs are not certified organic they will be ethically wildcrafted. No box will ever include gluten, nuts, corn, or dairy.

Becca Organics Oil of the Month Four Levels of subscriptions ranging from $27/month to $197/month (shipping included). Designed to help build up your essential oil collection and support health and well-being. Level One includes one bottle of essential oil up through Level Four which provides 8 bottles of essential oils, a room misting spray, an AromaStix roll-on product, and 5 empty mister bottles for creating your own mists. All essential oils are organic and wild harvested and non-GMO.

Essential Oil Wizardry Three levels of membership $20/month gets 1 blend; $49/month 3 items including an essential oil and a tincture; $87/month for 5 items including EO, tincture, and, massage oil plus a 10% off coupon. (Shipping included). Limited to just over 100 members.

Kings Road Apothecary $53.50/month plus shipping. Multi-month subscriptions include free shipping. Kings Road Apothecary in an indie sub sending handcrafted, small-batch, herbal-based products that often are seasonal in nature. Boxes are themed (e.g., pinon, lymphatic support, seaweed, salt & water, etc.) and include four full-sized products in each shipment. Items may include an herbal tincture, tea, body scrub, facial mask or cream, massage oil, and more. Due to the sustainable wildcrafting of the box ingredients only approximately 50 boxes are available each month. This is not a re-billing subscription. Boxes are available as single purchases or can be pre-purchased as a multi-month subscription. To see my Kings Road Apothecary reviews look here.

Pregnancy/New Baby/Mom/Home

21 Bundles $39.99/month, shipping included. Discounts for multi-month subscriptions. Started by a woman who has served as a pre and post-natal yoga instructor, post-partum doula, Certified Lactation Educator Counselor and nanny, 21 Bundles sends all natural, toxin free products to delight new mom or mom-to-be. Boxes tailored for whatever stage of pregnancy or of baby’s first year and will include 5-8 full size items, with a total retail value of anywhere from $50-$80.

Andrea Schroeder Candle of the Month Club $120 for a 3-month membership. Includes shipping. Each month’s box includes a full size 10.5 oz. Andrea Schroder candle, a travel size candle, a signature notecard, and a special hand selected gift from Andrea Schroder. Candles are made from a blend of coconut, natural, and palm wax. They are non-toxic and free of toxins, artificial dyes, or colorants. Candles are scented with essential oils stabilized with a blend of natural oils. Candles and ingredients are not tested on animals.

Austin Lloyd $49.99/month includes shipping. Discounts for multi-month subscriptions. Each box includes 3-5 premium toys and at least one book catered to your child’s developmental level and gender (or gender neutral), focused on children ages birth to 3 years. All items are non-toxic and BPA-free. These are unique, high end toys that are not typically sold at large retail chains and come from brands like Haba, Plan Toys, Melissa & Doug, and Manhattan Toys among others. They are designed to be engaging and targeted at improving fine motor, cognitive, and social skills. No battery operated toys included.

Ecocentric Mom $24/shipment, shipping included. Ships every other month. Available in three box types (Pregnancy Box, Mom Box, Mom & Baby Box). Each box included 5-9 hand selected products that are gentle on your body and the earth. Items are natural, sustainable, organic, and ethical. Boxes feature a mix of large sample sizes and full size products. Items range from skincare, wellness, snacks, and more in the Mom Box to diapers, skin cream, and organic first food in the Mom & Baby box, to skincare, makeup, spa products, and more in the Pregnancy Box.

Homegrown Collective $39/month plus shipping. Price reduced and shipping free for multi-month subscriptions. Receive a seasonally appropriate, professionally curated box of products that deliver the satisfaction of living a more self-sufficient and sustainable lifestyle. Examples of past boxes include Home Remedies and Cure Alls, Kombucha, Detox in a Box, and The Beauty of Coconut. Boxes include instructions and all supplies needed to create one or more awesome DIY products with each box (may need to provide some basic supplies). Also teaches you how to become more self-sufficient/sustainable.

The Honest Company Offers several monthly themed bundles: Eco-Friendly Disposable Diapers & Wipes ($79.95/month), Essentials-items for home and body care ($35.95/month), Honest Health & Wellness-food based and quality supplements (($35.95/month), and Organic Infant Formula + dha ($119.95/bundle; buyer sets frequency). With the exception of the formula bundle, bundles are fully customized buy the buyer within each theme and specified quantity of items (for example, any 5 items/Essentials bundle; any 2 items/Health & Wellness bundle.

Children

Happy Hedgehog Post Cost $30/month for a la carte purchases, less with multi-month subscriptions. See site for options to Canada. In addition, HedgehogPost offers a Sibling Envelope add-on for $18 with extra materials to make multiples of the primary crafts featured if you have multiple children or if you just want more. A monthly indie envelope subscription featuring products for children and families to enhance their home, crafts, and nature tables. With a distinct focus on the handmade and natural, this subscription may be a good option for families who are familiar with, and appreciate a Waldorf schooling and play approach. Each month will include materials and instructions for one or more craft projects, a Zine featuring season-specific stories, recipes, bonus craft, and more, and a special gift often appropriate for play or to beautify a nature table. 10% of the purchase price of every box goes to support a different charity each month. For my Happy Hedgehog Post unboxings and reviews, look here

Little PNuts Annual subscription required, no month-to month or single box option. $60/quarterly shipment if annual fee of $240 is paid up front. Shipping is included. Can also opt for $25/month payments for 12 months ($300 total), but will still only receive 4 quarterly boxes. Filled with engaging Eco Friendly & Organic Toys designed to encourage creative play and discovery (3-5 toys/shipment). Choose from three programs : Infant 0-12 Months, Toddler 1-3 Years or Preschool 3-6 Years. Partner with many trusted brands such as Haba, Kathe Kruse, Green Toys, Tegu and more.

Mindfulness Box Kids $29/month includes shipping. Discounts for multi-month subscriptions. Intended for children ages 3-12 years. This monthly box is aimed at teaching mindfulness to children, while promoting peace in themselves and the world around them. Each month is thoughtfully curated with hands-on activities, literature, meditations, a healthy snack and so much more to nurture your child’s heart and mind.

SparkBox Toys One Sparkbox every 4 weeks $34.99/month; 1 Sparkbox every 8 weeks $19.99/month. Two month minimum for membership. Designed for children ages 0-4 years, Sparkbox is all about the Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle. This toy rental subscription sends 4 age-appropriate, gently used toys to your child to enjoy for 4-8 weeks. When the fun is done, just sent the box back for more toys. Shipping both ways is included in the subscription price. Sparkbox will curate your box based on child’s age, but they allow members to review, edit, and fully customize their box if they desire. Toys are screened to be high-quality, unique, award-winners. Some may be plastic and/or require batteries (included), others are made from natural materials. SparkBox uses only eco and child-friendly sterilization solutions to clean their toys between shipments. All toys go through a 5-step cleaning process that includes surface cleaning, sterilization, disinfecting, inspection and vacuum sealing.

SwiggyDiggyDo $39.95/month. Discounts for multi-month subscriptions. Designed for children ages 6 months to four years, however currently box contents will only vary relative to clothing size so some items may be to hand down/gift or grow into depending on your child’s age. SDD seeks to find the best, eco-friendly products that are free of BPA, lead, bromine, phthalates and a bunch of other weird chemicals that companies decide to put into toys, clothing and basically everything else. You will get a custom designed, limited edition shirt for your kid. Along with the shirt, your box might include toys, crafts/activities, books, clothing, feeding items and more.

Whimsy Box $35 plus shipping. Multi-month subscriptions are discounted and include free shipping. In addition, they offer a Sibling Add-On option for $20 which includes the box contents minus the book if you wish to have duplicates for the sibling or if you already own the featured book and would like the additional items to enhance the story. Each month’s package features a book appropriate for children approximately ages preschool through age 8 years as well as several artisan and often handmade items related to the book’s theme to extend the story into the child’s play, as well as a few additional small extras such as stickers, organic treats, and post cards. Past items have included play silks, face masks, wooden figures, musical instruments and more, and often are made from natural materials. To see my Whimsy Kids reviews, look here.

Fair Trade/Handmade

Craftly Just launched and still in beta phase. $19.99/month plus shipping. A lifestyle subscription box for either men or women that features high quality products and handcrafted goods from independent artists, small businesses, and mid-to-large scale brands. Every month, subscribers receive a surprise box of 3-5 samples, full-sized items, and exclusive offers for home, beauty, grooming, tech, fashion, stationary, food, fitness, and more.

Fair Ivy $30/month. Currently monthly and multi-month subscriptions are full but you can request to be added to the wait list. Fair Ivy sends a handmade and hand wrapped gift each month. All items are created by individual US artists, with each month representing a single artist’s creations. Each gift you receive is vegan-friendly, and contains an information card with details of the artist’s process, background, or inspiration, so you can understand the time and care put into each hand-wrapped item. Past selections have included a single jewelry item, a purse or clutch, set of stationary, or selection of bath products.

Fair Treasure $35/month. Discounted for multi-month subs) FT hunts for the most amazing designs in home décor, jewelry, and other accessories, personally curating these finds for each month’s treasure boxes. Sometimes they even work collaboratively with artisan groups to develop and design unique products just for their boxes. Each box will contain at least $30 in retail value of ethically sourced treasures. Typically, your treasure box will contain 2-3 items. They will also include information on the people and communities who made your treasures and are benefiting from your purchase.

Fair Trade Friday $35/month plus shipping. Discounts for multi-month subscriptions. monthly membership club that delivers a box of 3-4 high quality items to your door by the first Friday of the month. The items in the box are often jewelry and accessory items, are fairly traded, and provide employment to women all over the world. 100% of the proceeds from each box goes to the empowerment of impoverished women.

GlobeIn Basket $35/month, shipping free. Discounts for multi-month subscriptions. Each box includes 4-6 artisan-made products from around the world (a “globe in a box”) packaged in a Mexican palm leaf basket, as well as a story about the crafters whom you have supported with your purchase. In addition, GlobeIn just launched a new mini box called the Benefit Basket for $19.99/month, which will feature two lifestyle products per month.

MakrBox $29/month MakrBox features handcrafted artisan goods from the Pacific Northwest. Each month subscribers receive 2-3 curated artisan made kitchen or home goods.

Whew, I hope that everyone can find something in the listing above that would be perfect to add a little crunchy delight to their mailbox or to gift to someone else. If you know of a sub box that I missed that you think belongs in the list, please mention it in the comments.

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My Favorite Green Smoothie Recipe

In the summer months I especially love to start my day off with a cold green smoothie for breakfast. I like to pack it full of good protein, fiber, and healthy fats to give me lots of energy in the morning and some frozen fruits to make it thick and delicious. This smoothie recipe is the same one that I have been making for almost seven years because I just love it that much. I thought that it was high time that I share the recipe here. My version is free of gluten and dairy, but you can make substitutions that are appropriate for your needs and preferences. Rumor has it that children will even drink it sometimes too.

Okay, you are going to need some ingredients. Before I tell you what to do with them I am going to tell you long stories about the ingredients because I find food really interesting:

Green smoothie ingredients

Coconut Oil: I love coconut oil. I have been using it for a long, long time. When we initially changed our diet over to being free of dairy eight or nine years ago, coconut oil was the primary fat that I used as a substitute for butter in baking. I find that I use organic, sustainably harvested palm shortening more for baking now but we still use loads of coconut oil for anything from smoothies to popcorn and a host of non-food applications as well. I also like repurposing the big, clear containers for storing dry goods or craft supplies after I finish the oil. In addition to being delicious and coming in useful containers, coconut oil has tremendous health benefits. You can Google your day away reading all about it. To get you started, here’s a helpful article exploring its greatness. I always make sure to buy raw, or cold-pressed, organic, coconut oil to get the maximum health benefits.

Hemp Seeds: Another super healthy and delicious ingredient. Of the brands I have tried, my personal favorite is Nutiva (they also make excellent coconut oil). I remember meeting who I think was the owner of the company at the Chicago Green Festival Expo seven or eight years ago (if he wasn’t the owner he was a representative with an intense passion for hemp seeds and coconut oil). We had already been using the products for a while at that time and came home from the festival with a stroller loaded with oil and hemp seeds that we purchased at the event. Hemp seeds are delicious, having a nutty flavor that reminds me of pine nuts. They are a great source of protein and fiber as well as omega-3s. I toss them into quick breads, yeast breads, smoothies, and on salads.

Bananas: Frozen bananas give a very creamy texture and mouth feel to the smoothie. Since I make this smoothie often and go through a lot of bananas doing it, I keep a never-ending bag of bananas in the freezer. Whenever we have bananas that are getting too ripe for anyone to eat happily, I just peel them, break them in half, and toss them in the bag. Many of the stores around me will also reduce overripe produce for quick sale and bananas are frequent flyers in this area. I tend to stock up on these spotted or bruised bananas at 5-8 cents each and use them to keep the “frozen banana bag” stocked.

Strawberries: I keep big bags of frozen strawberries on-hand for my smoothie needs. I like the zing that they give to the smoothie. The iron present in the greens will also be more readily absorbed when paired with the vitamin C in the berries. I have found the best value pound-for-pound at Costco in their 4 lb. bags. Since I know that I will use this quantity, I have no problem buying in bulk. l don’t always buy all of my produce organic, but I strongly prefer to eat organic strawberries because the Environmental Working Group tells me that it’s an important one.

Milk Substitute: We use rice milk as our primary milk substitute. We have used hemp milk in the past as well when protein content was of a higher priority in a milk substitute (when it was Asher’s primary fluid source as a toddler because Mommy had cancer and had to wean him far earlier than expected). You can use other preferred milk substitutes too as well as cow’s milk if dairy is agreeable to you and to your constitution. You can even use water, but I don’t think that tastes as delicious.

Green Powder: There are eleventy jillion green juices, shakes, and powders on the market these days. I have always made this smoothie with Pure Synergy Superfood powder. When I was first looking for a green powder to use in my smoothies, one of the moms from the kids’ Waldorf school sang the praises of this one. In my experience the moms at the school were some pretty nutritionally-savvy ladies so I took the recommendation to heart. I like Pure Synergy because it is packed with organic, raw, sprouted, awesomeness with everything from mushrooms and sea vegetables, to herbs and grasses. I am not affiliated with this company, I just think that they make a great product. If you have another green powder that you prefer, just substitute that in, adjusting the quantity to be equal to one serving of whatever green powder that you use.

Alright, now to make your smoothie you need:

1 c. rice milk or other milk substitute
2 bananas, frozen
3/4 c. strawberries, frozen
2 T. hemp seeds
1 T. coconut oil
1 T. Pure Synergy powder (they recommend that you work up to this amount over time so that you’re body doesn’t explode from too much healthy right away).

Now, it is important to follow the manufacturer guidelines for your blender if you make this frozen delight. In my experience, if you have a high-powered blender like a Vitamix, you can just toss everything in and blend away, using the tamper thing to get it all well blended. If you have a less powerful blender, you will likely have to thaw the fruit a bit or it will be too hard and dense and you will risk breaking your blades or overheating your motor. You also may need to start the blender without the fruit and slowly add the fruit a bit at a time with the blender running to avoid problems (I once spent a good thirty minutes on the phone with a blender customer service representative discussing the importance of a “vortex” in proper blender usage).

Sunshine making smoothie look black in picture.  Sad for picture but happy sunshine.

Sunshine making smoothie look black in picture. Sad for picture but happy sunshine.

It should be noted that this is not a low-calorie drink. It is about 24 oz. of nutrient-packed goodness. I use this as my breakfast and to fuel me all morning. You can of course modify the quantities of hemp seeds and coconut oil or the type of liquid used to alter the protein, fiber, fat, and calorie contents to suit your personal health needs. I like it just like this.

IMG_9910

See? Yum!

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Barganic Alert: Cuisine Cube Subscription Box $15 off Coupon

Cuisine Cube has recently revamped their subscription box service to better cater to a variety of food needs and preferences. Previously Cuisine Cube focused exclusively on gluten free foods, but now they have expanded to offer either gluten free, vegan, or artisan food boxes. Boxes will include 6-7 full sized food items in the category selected and cost $39.99/month with free shipping, with discounts for multi-month subscriptions. To celebrate their newly revised site and expanded lines, Cuisine Cube is offering a $15 off coupon. Just enter NEWSITE15 at check out. This is an auto-renewing subscription unless a pre-paid, multi-month subscription is selected.

If you would like to see my most recent listing of “crunchy-friendly” subscription boxes, you can find that here.

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Crunchy Father’s Day Gift Ideas

Father’s Day is coming up fast. I wanted to highlight a few gift options that have caught my eye that might appeal to the crunchy dad in your life:

Vegan Cuts Men's Grooming Box

1. Vegan Cuts Men’s Grooming Box
Remember when I posted about the Vegan Cuts Men’s Grooming Box back in March and said something about tucking it away until Father’s Day? Just in case you forgot, you can still order the box for the vegan crunchy dad. VC says that orders placed through today should arrive in time for Father’s Day. As a reminder, the Grooming Box features 12 vegan products and is valued at $108. Box cost is $39.95 with free shipping in the United States.

Farm to People Billy Corrigan box

2. Farm to People Tasting Box curated by Billy Corgan Many people do not know that Billy Corgan of the Smashing Pumpkins has a passion for local artisanal foods. As the owner of a tea house in the Chicagoland area, he sources beautiful and exotic teas, serves gluten free, vegan, and Paleo fare and decorates the place with an eclectic mix of antiques and art. If you are lucky enough to be in the area (as I am) you may even get to sip some delicious tea as you listen to Billy (as his alter ego DJ Ivory Tower) spin some classic Smashing Pumpkin tunes. If you cannot make it out to his Madame Zuzu’s tea house to enjoy a cup of gourmet tea, this Farm to People box features some delicious herbal teas from Madame Zuzu’s (two of my favorites in fact) as well as some of Billy’s favorite small batch foods. Three boxes, at random, will also include a handwritten note from Billy himself. The boxes cost $129, which includes free ground shipping. Due to perishable items, some areas will require an additional charge for overnight shipping. Farm to People offers other other Father’s Day gift packages at various price points and to cater to different dietary needs such as vegan, paleo, gluten free, and organic.

organic beer brewing kit

3. Seven Bridges Cooperative Organic Beer Brewing Kits Available in both regular and gluten-free varieties, these kits contain the certified ingredients needed for dad to brew up a batch of his own ale, lager, stout, etc. in a couple hours. Some basic equipment is required. Pricing starts at $36.00.

Alchemy Goods upcycled toiletries bag

4. Alchemy Goods upcycled toiletries bag These water-resistant bags are crafted in the USA from reclaimed truck inner tube and and feature a zipper pull made from a tube valve. In total they are made from 92% upcycled materials. Eco-friendly and practical sounds good to me. These bags are currently on sale for $30 plus shipping.


5. Eco-friendly watches:

Sprout Watches

Sprout Eco-Friendly watches Made from eco-friendly materials such as corn resin, organic cotton, bamboo, cork, and Tyvek and using only mercury-free batteries. These watches come in a style sure to suit any crunchy dad who wants to be eco-conscious and on time. I saw prices for the watches starting around $22 on Amazon.

We Wood watch

We Wood offers another non-traditional watch option, using mostly scrap wood to craft their watches. In addition, for every watch purchased, We Wood plants a tree somewhere in the world, with over 300,000 trees planted to date.

Upcycled vintage leather wallet

6. Eco Friendly Wallet: There are a whole array of wallets in every shape, configuration, and price point featuring upcycled and Earth-friendly materials. I loved this cork wallet featured on Etsy.com. and the gorgeous vintage leather wallets pictured above made from upcycled baseball mitts by Fielders Choice Goods.

Klean Kanteen growler

7. Eco-friendly water bottle: There are so many great eco-friendly water bottles available on the market now. I personally am partial to glass or stainless steel options. We have been using Klean Kanteen bottles for many years in our family, and I have given them as gifts to family members in the past. Hydration is so important to good health and these bottles make it easy. Klean Kanteen has even recently introduced growlers to their line (pictured above) in the event that you want to pair a reusable bottle with that organic brewing kit above.

I hope that you find the perfect something or a great inspiration in the list above. What are you getting the crunchy dad in your life for Father’s Day this year?

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Chocolate Chip Banana Bread Recipe: Gluten, Dairy, and Nut Free (with Superfood Bonus)

Chocolate Chip Banana Bread-gluten, dairy, and nut free with hemp seeds

We’re celebrating another birthday around here. When asked what she wanted for breakfast on her birthday, Alina said that she wanted banana bread. Since I had a bunch of bananas on my kitchen counter growing ever-browner and squishier, I was all too happy to oblige. What with it being a birthday and all, chocolate chips seemed to be an appropriate addition. I have even made this recipe into 2 round pans in the past and frosted it as a layer cake for a child’s birthday (put chocolate chips in it and frosting on it, and it’s cake to me).

I like this recipe because it uses a lot of bananas, which lend a great deal of flavor, sweetness, and moisture to the recipe. As a result, you can scale back the sugar and oil if you desire and depending on your other plans (e.g., with chocolate chips and frosting, I’d cut back on the sugar. If you add seeds or nuts you might want to pull back on the oil). I add hemp seeds to all of my quick breads because they boost the protein, fiber, and nuttiness and make me feel mildly less guilty when I gobble a second piece.

*brown sugar not pictured because I forgot it in the photo*

*brown sugar not pictured because I forgot it in the photo*

Makes 1 9×5 inch loaf or approximately 2 dozen cupcakes

Ingredients:

2 cups 3, 2, 1 Flour Mix! or other gluten free flour blend
1 t. baking soda
1/2 t. baking powder
1/4 t. salt
1 t. cinnamon
1/2 c. grape seed or coconut oil or a blend of the two.
2/3 c. brown sugar
2 eggs
2 1/3 c. mashed overripe banana (approximately 5-6 large bananas)
2/3 c. semi sweet chocolate chips (dairy free; technically optional)
1/2 c. hemp seeds (this brand is my favorite; also optional)

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and lightly grease a 9 x 5 inch loaf pan.

Banana bread-dry ingredients

2. In a large bowl, combine flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon. Stir to combine.

Banana Bread-oil and sugar mixing

3. Mix together oil and sugar.

banana bread adding eggs and bananas

Add eggs and mashed banana, mixing until well blended.

banana bread-adding chocolate and hemp

4. Add flour mixture, chocolate chips, and hemp seeds to banana mixture.

Banana bread-mix to moisten

Mix to just moisten.

banana bread-ready to bake

Pour batter into prepared pan. If possible, try to use one that’s been in your mother’s kitchen since 1972. If you’re feeling especially festive, sprinkle top center of loaf with a handful of extra chocolate chips.

5. Bake in preheated for 65-75 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean (loaf is very dense and takes a while to cook through). Muffins will take closer to 30 minutes to cook through.

Banana bread fresh from the oven

6. Cool and enjoy!

This recipe also freezes well. I tend to make them as muffins and then freeze them to give to the kids as treats or as snacks in their lunch boxes.

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