Many of us have heard how important it is to eat as a family. But we also know that, with crazy and overlapping schedules, it’s easy for life to get in the way. In fact, in the U.S., 70 percent of meals are consumed outside of the home, with 20 percent eaten in the car.
On the other hand, studies show that families who dine at home together are happier and healthier. Kids who eat with their parents are more likely to eat their fruits and veggies, have higher self esteem and better body image, lower rates of obesity, and higher grades. Ultimately, strong family connections keep kids healthier and safer.
The benefits are numerous, but again, schedules are hectic. How can you plan out a family meal without it becoming a chore for all involved?
Set Goals + Schedule it
When you think about it, most families have two opportunities to eat together during the week – breakfast and dinner – and three on the weekends. That’s over 15 possible meal times throughout just one week. First, set a goal: you’ll eat together twice a week; you’ll eat as many meals together as possible; breakfast is a must-do. Find a goal that works for you and stick to it! If it helps, set times on the family calendar that work for everyone’s schedule each week.
Understand that life will inevitably surprise you. When this happens, be flexible. Put carrots, hummus, salsa, and chips out on the kitchen table and take it as an opportunity to snack together. Your mealtime doesn’t have to be formal!
You Don’t Need to be Lavish
On that note, family mealtime doesn’t have to mean pulling out all the gourmet foods. Your family doesn’t need an elaborate meal to sit down and eat together. Keep it simple; the goal is to come together and enjoy each other’s company, not an adorned meal. One easy trick? Create buffet-style meals that cater to all different tastes and eating restrictions. Put out vegetable starters to get everyone engaged, then set out a make-your-own-meal buffet (tacos, sandwiches, soups, salads, pizzas, and pastas work great!) to keep everyone happy and healthy.
Another option? Meal prep on Sundays, or whichever day is the freest for you. Cook a double batch of Sunday dinner and freeze it for the remainder of the week. Remember – the freezer is your friend! Even better, involve kids in the prep work. That’s more time spent together and valuable skills learned.
Converse with No Pressure
Use family dinner as a time to truly enjoy each other’s company. That means no talk of bad grades, school problems, and chores. Try talking about something exciting: a family vacation or weekend plans. Current events also work. Make it easier to chat by creating a “tech rule” for phones: either forbid them from the table, or use the “one glance rule” for greater flexibility.
All in all, it’s important to take advantage of every opportunity to nourish the mind, soul, and stomach together at a family meal. Make it a priority this month as school is starting, and let us know how it goes!
We don’t know about you, but making others happy makes us happy. There’s something so rewarding about putting a smile on a friend, family member, or even stranger’s face that can simply make our days brighter.
Sometimes it seems like we interact more with computers than real live people these days. Sure, we may be interacting with other people via our social channels, but less and less so face-to-face. While these technological mediums work wonders in bringing people together – for instance, connecting you to a loved one who lives across the globe – it also limits our daily face-to-face interactions with the other humans that surround us. There’s so much value in putting a smile on someone’s face – and then actually being able to see it in person.
This week, take a step back and put a smile on someone’s face that you can actually see. It doesn’t take more than a few minutes to do something wonderful for someone you care about – that will literally make their day. Try these ideas:
- Send a handwritten note. When’s the last time you got a handwritten card in the mail? When sifting through bills, junk mail, and catalogs, our hearts skip a beat when a handwritten note from a loved one is mingled within all the boring junk. Take time to congratulate someone on a goal achieved or a job well done, or simply write to thank them for being a great friend. Sometimes the personal touch of your handwriting and a heartfelt message is all someone needs to perk up.
- Give them a phone call. Texting can only get us so far in communicating fully with each other. Texting and email are convenient, yes, but hearing someone’s voice, mood, tone, and excitement are even better. Pick up the phone this week and call someone you haven’t talked to in a while. Even if they’re busy and don’t pick up, they’ll appreciate the gesture!
- Ask what one’s goals are, then give your friend something to help them achieve it. Everyone has those goals that linger in the back of their mind, but people hardly talk about them. Perhaps it’s a fear of accountability or an independent mind, but talking about one’s goals is one of the critical aspects of achieving them. Ask a friend to talk about their goals (either long-term or short) and send them a small package with a gift that will help them make that goal happen. Even a small notebook where they can track their progress is wonderful!
- Praise or compliment them publicly. It’s easy to shoot someone a text or email with a compliment (and that’s always welcome). But praising someone in front of others takes the extra step. Sure, it may embarrass them, but showing your appreciation in front of others only magnifies it.
- Surprise with a meal. Nothing brings people together like the smell and taste of good food. A meal is a great thing to share with a friend, as not only does it nourish the body, it can nourish the soul. Whip up your friend’s favorite meal and leave it at their doorstep on a day that’s been particularly difficult.
Making friends smile is easy – even without technology involved! How do you make friends smile?
How’s your holiday shopping going? If you’re still in need of some gift ideas for your loved ones, consider this: green, eco-friendly gifts have a two-fold benefit – 1) you’re giving friends and family something they’ll love, and 2) both you and the recipient will feel great about opening a gift that has a smaller impact on the environment.
This season is all about spreading joy and good cheer, and giving a green gift – or one that gives back in another way – is a critical way to do so.
We’ve compiled a few green gift ideas to make it easy for you to check friends and family off the buying list.
- Buy local gifts from craft fairs or farmers’ markets. If you look in your local paper, chances are you’ll find multiple local crafting fairs in December hosted by local artisans hoping to sell their goodies during the gift-giving time of year. These local goodies range from homemade soaps to jewelry to baked goods. Check out the local fairs to avoid the shipping or driving miles typically needed when shopping.
- Rethink material gifts. Only get someone a material gift if you know he or she will use it (a new pair of Earth Shoes, for example :)). Too often during the holidays people buy because they feel compelled to provide a gift to someone, not thinking about the waste impact that gift will have if someone never uses the item purchased. If you don’t know what someone actually wants, go the homemade route.
- Prioritize food gifts. Everyone loves having extra treats around the holidays! Gifting food means the gift will be consumed, not thrown in a closet and eventually in a landfill. Infuse your own liquor, make granola, whip up homemade candy, or pack cookie ingredients in a pretty mason jar for wonderful food-based giving.
- Give experiences. What activity has your friend had on her bucket list forever that you can help her accomplish? Prioritizing experiences in gifting means that your special someone will get to have fun doing something they love rather than opening something material. Comedy shows, wine tastings, cooking classes, a membership to a boat house for kayaking, or a plane ticket to travel to a sought-after destination all make great experiential gifts.
- Green their space. Plants are wonderful gifts that add life to any home or workplace. Look for terrariums or potted plants that thrive indoors to ensure even those without a green thumb can take care of your plant gift. Dry plants like succulents are a great place to start and make for adorable décor.
- Adopt an animal or buy gifts that support conservation work. Charities like the World Wildlife Fund, Nature Conservancy, and the Sierra Club offer gift options that make an impact on their work to conserve forests, waters, and the species that inhabit them. Buy your family member the gift of supporting a panda’s natural habitat – it’s cute, meaningful, and makes an impact!
Do you have any green gifts in mind this year? How do you prioritize green giving? Let us know your ideas in the comments below!
The week has come for bellies full of turkey slathered in gravy, creamy mashed potatoes, fresh cranberry sauce, fluffy stuffing, and all the other delicious sides that come along with the Thanksgiving feast. Perhaps this week is the one week a year that you get uninterrupted time with your family for days on end. Maybe you love this time of year because it kicks off the holiday giving (and shopping) season, allowing you to start picking out those perfect gifts for loved ones. Or perhaps you just need the rest, relaxation, great food, and a glass of wine to decompress after a busy year.
No matter what your reason is for loving Thanksgiving, it’s a great time to whip up some really amazing food. Whether you’re hosting Thanksgiving at your house or going to a family member’s house, it’s always nice to create a new dish in addition to all those mainstays that always make it onto the Thanksgiving table. We encourage you to get creative this year with at least one dish – who knows, perhaps it will become one of your family’s new faves!
As you’re getting creative this year, consider trying an autumn-inspired vegetable main dish to complement the turkey. While the Thanksgiving table is often filled with vegetables, hardly anyone adds a veggie-based main dish when the turkey tends to steal the show. However, with so many people trying different diets nowadays, having a veggie main tends to please more guests than you think. In addition, adding more seasonal vegetables can never be a bad thing – after all, they’re good for you! (Just try not to douse the dish in too much butter.)
We’ve picked out a few of our favorite vegetable-based main dishes for you to try this year. They all involve in-season produce and lean towards the healthier side, so you can feel good about putting them on the table. Try one of these delicious recipes this year and watch as your guests swoon!
- Fall Panzanella Salad by Two Peas and their Pod
- Pumpkin Farro Risotto with Roasted Winter Vegetables by Vegetarian Ventures
- Delicata Squash and Kale Salad with Citrus-Maple Vinaigrette by Oh My Veggies
- Heirloom Apple Salad by 101 Cookbooks
- Sweet Potato, Kale, and Chickpea Soup by Cookie and Kate
Do you add a vegetable main to your Thanksgiving table? What’s your favorite recipe? Share them in the comments below – and happy Thanksgiving!
Happy Fourth of July weekend! What are you doing to celebrate? Perhaps you’re heading to the beach for a long weekend on the water. Maybe the mountains is more your scene. Or perhaps you’ll stay in your town or city to watch the fireworks surrounded by those you love.
This holiday celebrates summer in the best way possible. Filled with friends and family, sunny weather, vacation spots, and delicious food, celebrating independence turns out to be one of the best weekends of the year for many.
If you’re getting together with friends this weekend, chances are there is a lot of food in your future. Hot dogs, hamburgers, multi-colored cupcakes, and chips will line many a backyard table this weekend. While celebrating with these delicious staples is wonderful, in our view, there’s always a room to insert a little nutrition onto a typically full plate.
Celebratory food doesn’t have to be unhealthy – especially in the summer, when fresh produce teems on farmers’ market tables and grocery store shelves, showing off their bright colors and even brighter taste. This holiday, incorporate some vitamins, minerals, and nutrition into your potluck meals by committing to one healthy recipe.
We’ve put together a few ideas that will help you incorporate nutrition, taste, and fun all at the same time. All of these recipes also use fresh summer produce, which amps up their flavor and health benefits even more.
Make the most of the holiday by bringing one of these fresh, easy recipes to your potluck party. These five recipes taste so good – the other guests won’t even know how nutritious they truly are!
- Creamy Greek Pasta Salad by Two Peas and their Pod
- Raw Corn Radish Salad by Veggie Inspired
- Ricotta Cake with Mixed Berries by Naturally Ella
- Minted Watermelon Salad with Bulgur by Foolproof Living
- Broccoli Pesto Dip by A Healthy Life for Me
What are you up to this Fourth of July weekend? Let us know what recipes you’ll be bringing to the potluck in the comments below!
Here at Earth shoes, we really care about your health. From the soles we help put on your feet to the recipes and health tips we provide here on the blog, we constantly hope to provide you with the information and tools you need to live a healthy, happy lifestyle. Giving back is essential to everything we do and on every team at our company, from the shoe designers to the communicators.
Our company also promotes and helps others achieve a healthy lifestyle in another way: through volunteerism. If you’ve worked with a community organization before, you know how rewarding it is to selflessly give to those in need (while having a little fun in the process!).
In April of this year, one of our account executives, Julie Herman, spent her Wednesday volunteering at Northwest Harvest, a non-profit organization that functions as Washington State’s statewide hunger relief agency. Northwest Harvest strives to end hunger in Washington by supporting local food banks, providing nutritious, healthful food to those in need, and promoting good health. In fact, Northwest Harvest distributes food to a network of over 370 food banks, meal programs, and high-need schools statewide!
Here’s what Julie had to say about her experience:
April is Footwear Cares month in the shoe industry, and I chose to volunteer again this year at Northwest Harvest in Kent, Washington. I am proud to have represented Earth Brands to help families in need. This year, approximately 50 volunteers packed beans and boxed grapefruit. As a bean bagger, I helped bag 5,000 pounds of beans in less than two hours – those 5,000 pounds equals 3,846 meals for people in need! The 12,726 pounds of grapefruit also came out to 9,789 meals. It’s such a rewarding feeling to know that a few hours of my time can have such an impact on our community.
Footwear Cares month is run by Two-Ten, a charitable foundation offering financial assistance, counseling, community resources, and scholarships to those working in the footwear industry and beyond. They organize Footwear Cares month to give back to the greater community. Neil Newman, Two-Ten President, as well as other shoe industry representatives from Nordstrom and Washington Shoe Company all participated in the Northwest Harvest event (just to name a few).
The shoe industry is constantly growing, and with it grows our ability to give back to the community in more ways than one. We look forward to facilitating more opportunities to provide a healthy lifestyle to those who need it most – and to each and every one of our loyal followers at Earth Shoes!
December is always such an enjoyable month. Between shopping for holiday presents, trimming the tree, cooking warm, delicious meals, and spending time with loved ones, it’s hard not to feel yourself swimming with happiness throughout the majority of the holiday season. Add all those holiday parties to the mix and you’ve got yourself a fun, laughter-filled month.
If you’re heading to a few holiday parties in the coming weeks, you certainly aren’t alone. And as the holidays are defined, many of those parties probably involve some delicious, heart-warming meals. Whether a straight dinner party or a soiree filled with drinks and appetizers, holiday parties are practically defined by food. Sugar cookies shaped like snowmen, gooey pasta dishes, roasted vegetables and meats, and other scrumptious concoctions line the table at these parties like the lights running down the staircase.
While this food is delicious, it can also cause a bit of stress – how do you avoid some of the temptations to make sure your body feels as healthy and happy as it normally does throughout the year? How do you enjoy the delicious food while staying comfortable and joyous – not sluggish and drawn?
Our recommendation? Avoid the bloat and discomfort of overeating by filling your plate with veggies. We all know how amazing a diet rich in fruits and vegetables makes us feel. But don’t rely solely on the hosts to provide these dishes – they’ll always appreciate if you bring a little something to share with others, particularly one filled with nutrition!
Want to get creative? Bring the bread by whipping up these homemade Pumpkin Sage Biscuits by Minimalist Baker (1). Complete with real pumpkin and sage, these biscuits are the perfect start to any holiday meal.
Add some plant-based protein to the mix to keep guests (and yourself!) fuller, longer with Quinoa Salad Stuffed Acorn Squash by Love and Lemons (2). Roasted acorn squash serves as a filling base for a tasty, holiday-inspired quinoa salad.
Go the comfort food route – complete with some veggie goodness – and offer some Sweet Potato Mac and Cheese by Naturally Ella (3). While rich and cheesy, sweet potato and spinach complete the majority of this yummy dish.
Sneak a little veggie into a traditional appetizer – hummus and crackers – and delight guests with a festive Cranberry, Feta, and Sweet Potato Hummus by Two Peas and their Pod (4).
And last but not least – someone has to bring the salad. Why not you! Put together this hearty Kale, Clementine, and Feta Salad with Honey-Lime Dressing by Cookie and Kate (5) to have guests clamoring for more of the green stuff.
How do you delight holiday guests with veggie-base meals? Let us know your best recipes in the comments below!
April is Footwear Cares® month and I participated in this extraordinary national event! I am proud to have represented Earth Brands, one of over 100 footwear companies that are coming together to help children in need. I had a great time working alongside Neil Newman, Two-Ten President, and a number of amazing volunteers that came to the NW Harvest warehouse in Kent, WA on 4/20/16.
During the two hours at NW Harvest, the Footwear Cares® group packaged 1,498 pounds of pasta that will provide for 1,098 meals! Everyone walked out with a smile on their face and joy in their heart knowing the impact we had on our community. NW Harvest is a non-profit organization supporting food banks in Washington State. NW Harvest distributes food to a network of more than 370 food banks, meal programs, and high-need schools throughout Washington State.
Written by Julie Herman, E-commerce Account Executive