Celebrating Families, Healthy Living, and Getting Cozy

An Interview with Nicole Ludlow, the Founder of New Jammies

From organic chemistry to organic cotton, a basket full of sunflowers to boxes full of pajamas, Nicole Ludlow’s journey from child artist and scientist to business owner has been full of surprises. Today, Nicole is the owner and founder of New Jammies, producing organic cotton pajamas for children and infants. She is well-known for her fun designs, her focus on healthy living, and her oh-so-comfortable pajamas. But did you know that her interest in PJs began as an interest in organic chemistry? 

“As a child I was always interested in natural science,” she says. “Things like bugs, rocks, flowers, seashells, stars. I played outdoors for hours with my brothers and had a microscope that I thought was the coolest.” 

In middle school, Nicole’s science fair projects focused on things like red algae’s growth in saltwater, analyzing its absorption of carbon dioxide as a possible solution to the Greenhouse Effect. Later on, chemistry became Nicole’s main passion and the start of an exciting career. Before starting New Jammies, Nicole worked as an organic chemist in the agriculture industry.  

“I found chemistry to be interesting as it involved solving puzzles and building on an atomic level,” she explains. “Chemistry is behind so much of what we know in our world today and it is how we create many of the products in our daily lives, including more natural ones.”

Natural living formed the basis of Nicole’s childhood. She spent most of her time outdoors, running and playing with her brothers. Her background in clean eating and green living sparked the first ideas that would later turn into New Jammies’ first product lines. 

“When I started New Jammies in 2007, there seemed to be a need to teach children about enjoying fruits and vegetables,” she explains. “The obesity problem was continuing to grow in America’s youth with the combined lack of exercise and poor eating habits. It wasn’t an issue I had as a youth because we mostly ate fresh whole foods and ran around outside dawn until dusk.”

The question became: how could parents get their kids more interested in healthy eating and healthy living? What if there was a way to integrate healthy living with our lives, a way to make “green” such an integral part of our routines that kids learned healthy habits from birth? 

“I didn’t question that fruits and veggies were good, it’s all I knew,” Nicole says. “So, I came up with the idea of six fruit and vegetable pajama designs and bedtime stories using the same imagery. The books and pajamas were designed to make children excited about fruits and veggies. I believe we were one of the first children’s clothing lines on the market to utilize apparel design for teaching and as a tool to create healthy habits. At the time we were also ahead of the curve with gender neutral colors and images. You wouldn’t believe how many people asked if Bananas or Apples were a boy or girl design. I said, “It’s a fruit, it can be either!”

Along with the healthy eating habits Nicole learned from her childhood, her interest in the chemical processes behind product creation helped inform her decision to rely on organic cotton for all her new products.  “As I began looking at fabrics for our product line, I really wanted cotton as it is such a soft, breathable fabric,” she says. “I discovered that cotton is one of the most heavily treated crops in the world, resulting in pollution and poor working conditions and disease in farmers. How could I make a product that was designed to teach children healthy habits if the processing for that product was not healthy?”

At the time, researchers also began to draw connections between agricultural chemistry and the negative impacts many production techniques have on people and the environment. Agricultural chemistry has led to some amazing advancements–larger, disease-resistant, more reliable crops, for example–but it has also had some major negative drawbacks. 

“What are the long term consequences of dousing all of our food and land with chemicals?” Nicole asked herself. “How has this contributed to new disease on our planet? So, from day one I decided to choose organic cotton over conventional, hoping every step we take results in a better future for our children, families, and our environment. We go above and beyond for you to have a great experience with our pajamas,” she adds. “We design them with the highest quality organic cotton for a super, soft, durable, and comfy fit. I’d also like people to think colorful and playful. Organic doesn’t have to be mute colors. The brilliant colors of nature surround us everyday and we make sure we use the best eco-friendly dyes in our processing.”” 

Healthy living is part of the brand’s identity — and it shows in every stitch. The original designs focused on nutritious (and delicious) foods, like apples and bananas. Today, the brand has expanded to feature a wide range of fruits and veggies, along with familiar character themes like cowboys and pirates. 

“I’ve had so much fun with the design process over the years, sketching and drawing images, to developing a pattern, to pulling it together in a colorful pair of pajamas,” Nicole says. “One of my favorites is probably my Sunflower design. I was inspired by a planter of sunflowers my mother had in her living room. I loved the idea of a rich blue, contrasting the big, bold, yellow sunflowers. Some of my other favorites designs have included bringing whimsical characters to life, like our Ranching Cowboys, Mermaid Bubbles, and Christmas Elves. Of course I still love the simplicity and classic style of prints like our Lobsters, Whales and Anchors Aweigh. Sometimes simple is best!” 

“Our two piece snuggly pajamas are probably my favorite at this point,” she adds, “because I still get to see my boys in them every day as they grow. And a lot of days I have to convince them to get out of their New Jammies!”

Today, New Jammies products bring families together to celebrate traditions like a comfy bedtime routine. 

“I really would love for bedtime to be a fun, enjoyable experience,” Nicole says. “It is a special, quiet time of day we get to spend with our children. In our modern lifestyle, we have such busy schedules. It’s critical we take some time before bed to relax and just enjoy each other’s company. I believe this comes together with a routine, bedtime stories, and getting cozy in your favorite pajamas.”

 

Getting cozy is exactly what New Jammies is all about. 

“We’ve always focused on pajamas and probably always will, but I think there is room for more styles, bigger sizes, and maybe some family Jammies in the future,” Nicole says. “I also feel that reading is an integral part of bedtime, so I am hoping for some more opportunities to create some PJ and story book combinations. We’ve also started to bring back more infant styles with bibs, beanies, bloomers, and wearable blankets which I’d like to expand. The fun thing about design is that the sky is the limit, so who knows where the stars will take us!”

Nicole’s work has taken her across industries and careers to make a longtime dream come true. Today, New Jammies is an established brand that epitomizes the best parts of healthy living, amplifies the time that families get to spend together, and celebrates everything about getting cozy. 

“There was this moment five or six years ago when I realized my dream of making pajamas for children actually came true,” Nicole says. “I love hearing when a child’s favorite pair of pajamas are New Jammies and they request to wear them every night. It’s amazing to know that our pajamas are so important to a child’s comfort and happiness. Little boys and girls around the world are snuggling up for bedtime in their favorite pajamas with colors, images, and comfort that came from our designs.”

 

New Jammies was born as an environmentally responsible company offering 100% certified organic cotton pajamas and baby clothing. Learn more at newjammies.com.

Eat Right: Eco-Friendly School Lunches

Green Your Routine With Eco-Friendly School Lunches

With the school year back in full swing, parents across the country are getting back into the lunch-packing routine. This year, many of us are making it a goal to cut down on our environmental impact, and one of the easiest ways to do that is by adding some green to our kids’ packed school lunches. 

Why the green focus?

Moms and dads around the world are educating new generations of eco-minded youngsters every day. The impacts of climate change, unethical growing and distribution practices, and chemical add-ons are everywhere–but they don’t have to be in your food.

 

 

Many families have trouble committing to a fully “green” lifestyle, especially because it can be tough to identify what fully “green” really is! By committing to greener school lunches, you’re taking steps toward reducing your family’s carbon footprint all while teaching your kids how to be more environmentally responsible. 

Eco-friendly packaging

Packaging is one of the biggest culprits for unnecessary waste on school grounds. How many pieces of single-use packaging are in a single school lunch? When you consider the sandwich bag, plastic wrap, juice pouches, straws, and cutlery, it all adds up into a stack of single-use plastic we would all be better off without. 

Eco-friendly packaging is much more affordable today than it used to be, and the options are almost endless! One of the most convenient (and cutest) eco-friendly options out there is the “bento box.” Modeled after Japanese lunches, where each meal component is separated into its own small compartment, bento boxes use built-in or adjustable plastic dividers to divvy up your kids’ lunch containers. Now, instead of needing plastic wrap and sandwich baggies for your sandwich, veggie sticks, dip, and dessert, you’ve got one convenient (and reusable!) box that holds every piece without any messes or spills. Lunchtime prep can be easy and fun by just filling up the little boxes with whatever healthy foods you have on hand: veggies, fruit, nuts, crackers, berries, cheese, pasta, and more. 

 

  

 

Here are some more easy swaps you can make in your kids’ lunch bags:

  • Scrap the traditional “brown bag” or plastic bag. Have your kids pick out a fun (inexpensive) lunch box instead. 
  • Pack a hot lunch in a Thermos Funtainer or similar re-usable container that holds temperature for hot or cold foods.
  • Why use a disposable plastic sandwich bag when there are so many new options? Try waxed fabric, a reusable plastic container, zip bag or fabric sandwich bags. (We’ve got a few shaped like dinosaurs!) These are great reusable snack bags by two+two
  • Instead of plastic wrap, try reusable wax paper, beeswax wraps, or cloth bowl covers.
  • Tempted by those single-serving prepackaged snacks? Save money by buying one big box. Fill reusable containers like Tupperware, snap-tops, and preservation bags. Pediatricians recommend milk and water for kids, so skip the juice boxes altogether and pack some fruit in a reusable drink container. These now are available in all styles and keep drinks cold for long periods of time.

Eco-friendly food options

If you’re worried about the carbon footprint of the food your family eats, it may be helpful to take a few minutes to research where some of your most-used products come from. 

For example, when foods are shipped over long distances, their environmental impact grows to include automobile emissions, packaging materials, and cost of labor. On the other hand, if you fill out your family’s meal plans with locally-grown meat and produce, you’re cutting down your carbon footprint — AND supporting your local community. 

Another way to “greenify” your meals is by planning at least one or two vegetarian, vegan, or ethically-sourced meals each week. Some meat and dairy products tend to have more of an environmental impact than similar plant-based products. Plus, processed meats are often high in sodium, nitrates, and other additives. 

When in doubt, it’s best to plan your meals around organic, locally-sourced, seasonal produce–and (when you can) supplement with ethical meat products grown responsibly and locally!

We all try to do our part to preserve the planet. 

Your kids’ lunches are one small way you can help reduce your carbon footprint and teach your kids to be more environmentally conscious. With some preparation and imagination, your kids’ lunches can be delicious, nutritious, and green as can be!  And hey, don’t let the kids have all the fun — you can green your lunches on the go too! 

New Jammies was born as an environmentally responsible company offering 100% certified organic cotton pajamas and baby clothing. Learn more at newjammies.com.

Play Right: Celebrate Summer with a Backyard Camping Trip

If you don’t have the time or funds for a weeklong vacation, you can still celebrate your favorite outdoor traditions with a backyard camping trip! Pitch your tent in the grass, bring out pillows and sleeping bags, and enjoy all the fun of a summer adventure without the added stress of a long-distance vacation. 

1. Take Your Tent Up A Notch

 

Get Your Kids In On The Fun

Before the big day, have your kids make their own decorations to turn your backyard into a camping destination. From outdoors-themed coloring pages to wreaths, birdhouses to hand-painted tiki torches, these creations will give your kids the added fun of seeing their hard work transform your home into a state park.  

 

Light It Up

For some extra decorations, string lights and quirky battery-operated lights bring a gentle, warm glow to every summer evening. If your backyard has wall outlets, you can break out your holiday lights. For a fun DIY project, fill Mason jars or brightly colored plastic containers with battery-operated string lights. These can then be placed in the tent or around the backyard for a colorful evening glow! 

 

Tent Games

Turn your tent into a game room with your favorite board games, or make up your own! (Pro tip: this is a great activity for a rainy day!) When it gets dark, use lanterns or flashlights to create shadow puppets on the walls of the tent. For an educational twist, invest in a constellation lamp or tapestry and teach your kids to read the stars.   We love The Night Sky by local educator and author Garrick Pfaffmann .

 

2. Kid-Friendly Campfire Recipes

 

Breakfast: Tin Foil Egg Boats

These tin foil breakfasts are perfect for picky eaters and adventurous foodies alike. Shape two pieces of tin foil into a “boat” and a lid. Fill the boat with whisked eggs, chopped veggies, pre-cooked bacon, or your other favorite proteins. Then, carefully fold the tin foil lids over the boats to make closed, football-shaped containers. Cook these on a grill or stick with a marshmallow spear to roast over an open fire. After 5-10 minutes, the eggs and mix-ins will be perfectly cooked. Top with shredded cheese, salsa, or sour cream and dig in! 

 

Lunch & Dinner: Campfire Meals   

Cooking over a campfire adds a new layer of smoky flavor to every meal. Did you know baked potatoes can be an entire delicious, nutritious meal? Scrub and salt your potatoes, wrap in tin foil, and place directly in the coals of your campfire. Let roast for 45 minutes, then set aside to cool. When they’re ready to eat, add your favorite toppings — your kids can mix and match healthy favorites like broccoli, olives, scallions, salsa, and cheese — and dig in! For a cheesier twist, you can make grilled cheese or quesadillas over the fire. Our kids love adding mushrooms, roasted peppers, onions, tomatoes, and other veggies to make unique grilled cheese masterpieces!

 

Dessert: S’more Healthy S’mores

Who said s’mores had to be unhealthy? You can add a fresh component to this campfire favorite by swapping your Graham crackers for sliced strawberries or bananas, then topping with mini marshmallows and low-sugar dark chocolate. For a pop of protein, add a handful of chopped nuts. If your kids are fans of ooey-gooey deliciousness (who isn’t?), build tin foil boats like you did at breakfast and fill with your favorite dessert toppings. You can roast these over the fire just like roasting marshmallows, and enjoy a delicious, sticky dessert! 

3. Turn Your Backyard Into A State Park

 

Flora & Fauna Scavenger Hunt

For an educational afternoon activity, look up your state’s common wildlife and indigenous plants. Locate these in your own backyard (or hide handmade versions if your backyard isn’t super green), then make a scavenger hunt for your kids to complete. Spend the afternoon identifying these plants, bugs, and birds, and learning fun facts about them! 

 

Summer Olympics

It may be an off year for the Olympics, but that doesn’t have to be the case at your house! Turn your backyard into a sports extravaganza with your favorite summer games, like horseshoes, cornhole, and lawn darts. Do your kids have a competitive streak? Plan a full afternoon of games and competitions, with points for the winners. At the end of the day, decorate each other’s medals and give awards like “Best Concentration Face” and “Most Enthusiasm.” Hold a medal ceremony and celebrate! 

 

Bedtime Storytelling Contest

When it’s time for bed, you can use the day’s activities to inspire a bedtime storytelling contest. Alternatively, you can use familiar fairy tales and swap out the main characters for members of your family or your kids’ friends. Climb into your favorite jammies and take turns telling stories with different categories — scary, funny, mysterious — and vote on the winners.

 

As a mom and business owner living in the Colorado mountains, I have access to tons of great camping and wilderness opportunities.  But my entire life I’ve loved spending time right at home in my backyard: big, small, rural, urban, sandy, grassy, or rocky.   There’s nothing better than grilling out, making a fire, enjoying your garden or native plants, kicking or throwing a ball, a round of quoits or corn hole, and loving whatever makes your home special.   And what excitement for the kids, just to set up a tent in the yard and sleep outside.   Let’s face it, Summer can be short, but sweet, so make the most of it, even if it’s just right outside your doorstep!

Sweet dreams! ~ Nicole

 

New Jammies was born as an environmentally responsible company offering 100% certified organic cotton and flame retardant-free children’s pajamas. Learn more at newjammies.com.

Sleep Tight: Back to School ~ Back to Bed-Time

The importance of a bedtime routine during the back-to-school transition.

For many kids, all the fun of summer can make it tough to stick to a bedtime routine. Summer camp hours, slumber parties, and more hours of daylight — especially when the sun isn’t all the way down by bedtime — can turn into late nights and grumpy mornings when kids get too little sleep. 

 

Even though we’re still in the height of summer, it’s never too early to start planning for the fall! Kids’ brains and bodies won’t adjust to a school-year sleep routine overnight. According to the National Sleep Foundation, “Children who don’t get enough sleep have a higher risk of experiencing behavioral problems at school, as well as a more difficult time with learning.” As we approach the back-to-school season, it’s important to get kids back into a structured bedtime routine. 

Having trouble turning Z’s into ABC’s? These four tricks will help your family get back to bedtime, just in time for the new school year. 

1. Make it a gradual transition.

If you suddenly had to wake up an hour or two earlier, how long would it take you to get used to the new routine? Kids’ bodies and brains need time to adjust to a school schedule, so it’s not realistic to set an extreme new schedule all at once. Instead, you can slowly move bedtime back by fifteen minutes or half an hour (with an equal adjustment to wake-up time), with a few days in between each shift. By giving your kids time to adjust to the shorter shifts, they’ll have an easier time transitioning to the school-year’s schedule. 

2. Turn bed into an electronics-free zone. 

Clean sleep is the key to healthy rest. Electronics are one of the modern marvels that keep our brains from switching off completely when we go to bed. The glow and blue light from screens sends signals to our brains, telling us it’s still time to be awake. Keeping cell phones and tablets out of your kids beds — by establishing the hour or two before bedtime as “electronics-free” — reduces the impact of this blue light. 

3. Establish a relaxing bedtime routine. 

You can replace screen time with book time, or other electronics-free activities you and your kids can do together. Bedtime stories, breathing exercises, and baths are all great ways to help your kids unwind at the end of the day. The comfort of a favorite pair of jammies can also go a long way toward rewiring kids’ brains for bedtime! In the same way that light from electronics can send signals to your mind, the comfort of organic cotton and the routine of slipping into pajamas tells your body it’s time for bed. When you’re planning your bedtime routine, don’t forget to set a similar one for mornings! 

4. Let your kids help set the rules — and stick to them. 

Get your kids involved in bedtime, too! Giving your kids some power over their own choices helps them forget the parts of a new routine that they may not be too fond of. Introducing their first alarm clock? Let them choose the design! Want to make sure they brush their teeth before bed? Let them pick a new flavor of toothpaste! Plus, if your kids have outgrown last fall’s jammies, you can help them choose a new set of PJs with a pattern they can’t wait for bedtime to wear. 

New Jammies was born as an environmentally responsible company offering 100% certified organic cotton and flame retardant-free children’s pajamas. Learn more at newjammies.com.

Eat Right: Fun Plate Specials

Make Healthy Eating Fun With Fun Plate Specials 

For kids of all sizes, establishing healthy eating habits from a young age will promote healthy living long after baby birds leave the nest. However, many parents struggle to introduce healthy foods, especially to picky eaters. 

One solution? Fun Plate Specials. 

Fun Plate Specials meld your favorite healthy ingredients with the bright colors, quirky characters, and funky art that kids love. By turning mealtimes into times for creativity, parents can get kids involved in the fun. It’s a great opportunity to teach kids about the ingredients that go into their lunches, as well as the basics of food safety, sustainability, and seasonality. 

We’ve created a quick and easy lunch-and-dessert combo that’s sure to have your kiddos racing to set the table. 

Sally the Sandwich Kid: Sally’s fashion sense includes the best of seasonal produce: green apples, Rainier cherries, and fresh banana slices. We went with a simple PB&J sandwich, but you can mix it up with your kids’ favorites! Lunch meats, hummus and veggies, or bright toppings like lettuce and tomatoes make for excellent accessories. These sandwich characters are easily customizable with different outfits, hair styles, and accessories. For a fun challenge, have your kids create sandwich versions of themselves! 

Ingredients: 

  • 1 kid-sized sandwich, cut in a circle
  • ½ green apple, sliced
  • 1 serving raisins
  • ½ banana, sliced
  • 4 Rainier cherries, halved and seeded
  • Additional fruit or veggies as a side dish

 

Instructions:

    1. Wash and slice all the ingredients.
    2. Arrange raisins in a smiley face on top of the sandwich. 
    3. Lay out banana slices to make Sally’s hair.
    4. For the hair bow, halve or chop cherries and arrange into bow shape. 
    5. Create Sally’s dress by layering green apple slices on top of each other. 
    6. Use remaining raisins to create Sally’s arms and legs.

 

  • Optional: Serve with additional fruit on the side.

 

 

Dive-In Dessert Mermaids: These mermaids are a fun, whimsical way to present your kids’ favorite healthy sweet treats in a new and exciting way. We used vanilla pudding as the base to hold everything together, but you can also swap out with vanilla or plain yogurt, sugar-free Jello, or your favorite nut spread for a pop of protein. This “mix and match” dessert is the perfect pairing for healthy dipping sticks, like fruit chips, apple slices, or even celery sticks. 

Ingredients: 

  • 1 large Graham cracker
  • ½ cup low-fat vanilla pudding (we used about half of one container)
  • 1 Tbsp peanut butter (or alternate nut spread)
  • 1 Tbsp hazelnut spread 
  • 1 Rainier cherry, halved
  • 2 Tbsp mixed berries
  • 2 Tbsp chopped peaches 
  • Additional Graham crackers or apple sticks, for dipping

Instructions:

  1. Cut the Graham crackers into two large triangles and four small triangles.
  2. Top Graham crackers with nut butter or hazelnut spread, then arrange in tail shapes.
  3. Top tails with mixed berries. 
  4. Spread pudding to form torsos and arms. 
  5. Create “clothes” by pressing peaches into torsos. 
  6. Spread nut butter or hazelnut spread in shape of flowing hair and/or beards. 
  7. Press cherry half into “hair” to create the mermaids’ faces. 
  8. Serve with additional Graham crackers or apple slices for dipping. 

Versatile meals like Fun Plate Specials give you and your kids the fun of an arts and crafts day with the deliciousness of a healthy, balanced lunch. You can make Fun Plate Specials for any meal, like these apple porridge breakfast specials! Plus, any ingredient can be swapped in or out for kids with food sensitivities. Just be sure your plates pop with creativity and color, and your kiddos are sure to “dive” in! 

 

If you’re short on time, you don’t have to be short on creativity! We still play with our food, even if we only have a couple of minutes…

 

 

New Jammies was born as an environmentally responsible company offering 100% certified organic cotton and flame retardant-free children’s pajamas. Learn more at newjammies.com.

Sleep Tight: Bedtime Routines Help Children Get Their Rest

Creating A Relaxing, Pampering Bedtime Routine for Kids

If your child’s bedtime routine was perfect as a baby, but you now find that your 6-year-old is suddenly challenging her normal snooze time and battling to stay up later, a little pampering action may just do the trick. A poll by the National Sleep Foundation found that nearly one third of all 6 to 11-year-olds gets eight or fewer hours of sleep a night, and the result can be everything from daytime drowsiness to a greater likelihood of obesity. Sleeping well at night is vital for human heart and brain health, regardless of age. If your child needs a little help getting to bed, make it a fun experience by turning up the pampering and self-care focus.

Letting Kids Pick their Favorite Jammies

Fashion forward kids will be delighted if you let them choose their own pajama prints and styles. Whether stripes, plain colors, or polka dots are their thing, allow them to express themselves so that they cannot wait to get into their jammies at night. To boost the softness factor, make sure these are organic. Because the production of organic cotton does not involve the use of chemicals, organic PJs are ideal for kids with allergies. Of course, going organic also means you and your child can be more environmentally aware; no chemicals in the land means less contamination and greater diversity of animal species.

Making Bath Time a Diva/Divo Moment

The idea that only girls love a pampering bath time experience is a myth. Encouraging both girls and boys to love and pamper themselves with a soothing bath is an important lesson indeed, since love for the world begins with love and care of the self. Let your kids pick their own organic soaps and shampoos, and have a fun sugar scrub making session using coconut oil, granulated white sugar, food coloring, and therapeutic grade lemon essential oils. Opt for an essential oil like lavender, which has proven calming properties, to instill a deep sense of relaxation before bed time.

Meditation Time!

An important skill to teach kids is that of calming themselves down when they are stressed. A perfect time for relaxation session is when kids are ready for bed. There are many ways to encourage kids to take the reins when it comes to stress. One is through meditation. Use an app like Calm or Breathe, which has short (five-minute) yet powerful guided meditation and/or breathing exercises that teach kids and adults how to keep the mind ‘in the here and now’. This will enable kids to escape negative thought cycles. An even simpler exercise is progressive muscle relaxation. For this exercise, instruct your child to tense up their muscles for several seconds, then relax these muscles. Start with the toes, then the feet, then the calves etc., all the way up to the face and head. You can then guide children in to a more relaxed state by asking them to imagine their body is heavy, that their eyelids are heavy, and that they are falling slowly upon a soft cloud. They may just find it hard to keep their eyes open. 

To encourage kids to sleep at the same time every day, following a strict timetable is key. However, kids, like all human beings, enjoy rituals as well, particularly when these are pampering. Allow kids to choose their favorite relaxation methods and make sure to encourage them by helping them make or (if necessary and affordable) buy the tools they need to ensure that bed time is as fun as it is relaxing.

~Jennifer Dawson

New Jammies was born as an environmentally responsible company offering 100% certified organic cotton and flame retardant-free children’s pajamas. Learn more at newjammies.com.

February: Plant the Seeds of Greatness

January always seem to be the month of new beginnings, making goals, and looking ahead to creating better and healthier habits.   The changes start internally, but hopefully have a lasting effect on our well beings and that of our family, friends, and world around us.   Not surprisingly, by February many of us have moved back into our normal routines and our goals have gone by the wayside.   Or perhaps we were so overwhelmed from the holidays, we never had a chance to focus on ourselves, but were simply in recovery mode.   So I was surprised to find that February is known as the “Plant the Seeds of Greatness Month” and I’m excited I am given another chance to look at the future and perhaps plant my seeds this month.

 

“Awake, arise, and assert yourself, you dreamers of the world. Your star is now in ascendancy.”
― Napoleon Hill, Think and Grow Rich: The Landmark Bestseller Now Revised and Updated for the 21st Century

At New Jammies our motto is Eat Right, Play Right, Sleep Tight.   These are three areas of our lives that are essential to good health and overall well being.    I’d like to take a look at a few steps we could take to improve these areas and help plant your seeds of greatness.

Eat Right

  1. Shop the perimeter of the grocery store.  Our basket should be filled with less packaged/processed goods and more whole grains, fresh fruits, vegetables, dairy, meats, and fish.
  2. Add a new organic or local product to your list.   It can be hard to buy all organic and/or all local due to numerous factors including availability and budget.  Pick one of your regularly purchased items and commit to making sure it is organic, GMO free, or locally produced in a sustainable manner.
  3. Eat your veggies.   Try a new vegetarian or vegan recipe to add to your rotation of regular meals.  There are so many resources now for inspiring vegetarian meals, the world is your oyster. (mushroom, that is..)

Play Right

  1.  Keep it fresh. Get out and try a new activity you’ve never done before.   It seems like there are never ending new options for exercise these days.   Maybe if your a road runner, hit the trail.   You’re a downhill skier: skin uphill.   You’re a yogi, try pilates.    You’re a mountain biker: try road biking.   You love the gym: try a new class, an outdoor group sport (frisbee), golf, or a hike in the woods.   You’ll work your mind and your muscles in a different way and probably feel like a kid again.
  2.  Get outside.   The days are getting longer.   Take your routine outside, even if it means bundling up.
  3.  Just do it. Period!  As parents we often put our children, partners, work, and just sustaining our day to day life before taking time for ourselves.   Commit to one, two, or more days a week to just do an activity for yourselves.   This might mean getting up earlier or asking a spouse, friend, or relative for help, but a healthy body is a healthy mind for us to be the best we can be.

Sleep Tight

  1.  Value Sleep.   This is the time our body and mind needs to heal and be re-energized for a new day.  ” Research shows that poor sleep has immediate negative effects on your hormones, exercise performance and brain function.” (Healthline-17 Tips to Better Sleep)    Don’t take it for granted and set yourself up for the best sleep possible with a few tips highlighted here.

A. Reduce screen time before bed.

B. Don’t drink caffeine late in the day

C. Think before you drink that relaxing glass of vino or beer.

D. Don’t eat right before bedtime.

I’m sure a lot of these ideas are not completely new to you, but repetition creates good or bad habits.  Sometimes we need a reminder of the good to stay on the right track.    As a parent I constantly think, “Am I doing the right thing for my children” but sometimes we have to step back and do the right thing for ourselves.  If we plant the seeds of greatness for our future, I am certain our children, family, and community will feel the long term effects of our flourishing garden.

 

 

Eat Right: Healthy for the Holidays!

Holiday meals are full of New Jammies’ traditional favorites, from turkey and stuffing to pumpkin pie topped with fresh whipped cream. With many of these holiday appetizers, entrees and desserts loaded with fat and calories, we like to discover some of the more healthier options for families, especially those with kiddos to please.   

One way to start thinking healthy for the holidays is to consider switching out traditional ingredients for less sugar- and calorie-heavy items. Everyday Health healthy living newsletter offers these options, featured in its “11 Healthy Holiday Food Swaps” article. These include skipping:

• Full-fat dips, and eat yogurt dips (hummus with yogurt and lemon recipe)

• Some alcohol calories, drink wine spritzer instead (8 ‘skinny’ holiday cocktails)

• Candied yams, eat roasted sweet potatoes (low-calorie candied yams recipe)

• Store-bought, eat homemade stuffing (low-calorie stuffing)

• Traditional gravy, eat low-fat gravy (click here for recipe from the Mayo Clinic)

These recipes will be a hit with the family this holiday, and help with staying healthy:

We discovered this healthy mama on instagram with a new low carb twist on stuffing.

Cauliflower Stuffing

“It’s really pretty simple: melt 4T butter, sauté 1 chopped onion. Add 2 chopped carrots and 2 ribs of diced celery and sauté till soft. Add about 3 cups of riced or finely diced cauliflower and cook about 8 min. Add 1cup chopped mushrooms and season with salt, pepper, 1/2 t dry sage, fresh parsley and fresh rosemary. Cover and cook 15 min. Add up to 1/2 c broth if it seems dry. Using frozen cauliflower rice brings more moisture. Serve warm and eat it up!!!”

Thanks  Jennifer!  https://www.instagram.com/jenniferpantall/

 

 

 

 

Wild Rice with Cranberries & Almonds

This low-calorie (120 per 1/2 cup), low-cholesterol (0 mg) side dish, courtesy of the American Diabetes Association’s Recipes for Living, is a healthful holiday option that can be made for a big dinner, or a small get-together with lots of leftovers, as it serves 11. According to the ADA, wild rice takes longer to cook than other rice, but it has a lower glycemic index of 45 compared to white rice with a glycemic index of 70. This is important for those holiday guests with diabetes or other special diet considerations. The toasted almond slices and dried cranberries are a nice touch for any holiday spread.

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Ingredients
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 small onion, diced
3 1/2 cups water
1 cup fat-free, reduced sodium chicken broth
2 (4-ounce) boxes wild rice
1/3 cup slivered almonds, toasted
1/3 cup dried cranberries

Instructions
1. Heat the oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the onion and cook for 3-4 minutes.

2. Add the water and chicken broth to the pan and bring to a boil.

3. Add the rice; cover and cook according to package directions; usually about 50-60 minutes.

4. Remove the lid and add in the toasted almonds and cranberries; use a fork to mix together.

MAKE IT GLUTEN-FREE: Confirm all ingredients are gluten-free, including the chicken broth, and this can be made gluten-free.

Butternut Squash Soup

Roasted Butternut Squash Soup

Finally we found Jenn, a veggie lovin’ mama, cooking up Roasted Butternut Squash Soup which she considers a cold-weather staple! We love this silky butternut soup served with spicy roasted chickpeas for extra flavor. Vegan, Vegetarian, and T-Rex toppings available, so there’s something for everyone!

Recipe yields approx. 4 bowls or 6-7 cups of soup.

COURSE SOUP
CUISINE AMERICAN
KEYWORD ROASTED BUTTERNUT SQUASH SOUP
PREP TIME 10 MINUTES
COOK TIME 50 MINUTES
TOTAL TIME 1 HOUR
SERVINGS 6 SERVINGS
AUTHOR JENN LAUGHLIN – PEAS AND CRAYONS

Ingredients

  • 2.5 lb butternut squash
  • 3 large carrots
  • 1 onion (white or yellow)
  • 1 TBSP avocado oil (or favorite healthy oil)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 2 TBSP unsalted butter
  • 3 cloves garlic smashed + minced
  • 3 cups vegetable broth
  • additional salt + pepper to taste

SPICY ROASTED CHICKPEAS

  • 15 oz canned chickpeas
  • 1 TBSP avocado oil (or favorite healthy oil)
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • 1/4 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1/4 tsp ground cayenne pepper (spiiicy!)
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/8 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/8 tsp black pepper

Instructions

  1. Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees F. Make sure you have two large rimmed baking sheets handy as well as a blender.

  2. Drain and rinse your chickpeas and place on a stack of paper towels to dry a bit. The drier the chickpeas the crispier they’ll get in the oven. Woot!

  3. Cut your squash in half lengthwise and scoop out the seeds. Pierce skin of squash a few times with a knife. Peel and cut your carrots into 3 portions. Peel onion and cut into 8 quarters.

  4. Place your squash (cut side down), carrot, and onion on a large rimmed baking sheet (or roasting pan). Drizzle with 1 TBSP oil (extra if desired) and season with 1/2 tsp salt and 1/4 tsp pepper. Pour 1/4 cup of water over the squash. (it will evaporate as the squash roasts)

  5. Pat chickpeas dry and add to your second baking sheet. Drizzle with 1 TBSP oil and season with 1/4 tsp salt. (The rest of the spices will be added after)

  6. Place both pans on the center rack in your oven and roast. Chickpeas will be done at 30 minutes and the squash and veggies will be done after 45-55 minutes. When squash is tender and can be removed from the skin easily with a spoon it’s good to go!

  7. While your veggies roast, combine spicy chickpea seasoning in a small bowl: paprika, cayenne, garlic powder, cumin, black pepper. Set aside and once chickpeas are done roasting, sprinkle with the seasoning blend, mix ’em up, and set aside. They will crisp up more as they cool!

  8. In a medium-large pot, melt 2 TBSP butter over medium heat. For extra flavor, let’s brown the butter first to add some nutty flavor to our soup! Let your butter melt untouched, then once it starts to simmer and brown, add minced garlic and whisk constantly until butter is golden and fragrant. Add your vegetable broth, cover, and reduce heat to low.

  9. Once your squash is ready, allow to cool enough t handle, then peel off the skin of the butternut. Alternatively you can scoop the squash out with a spoon.

  10. Working in batches, blend the veggies with the broth in your blender until silky. I was able to add half the veggies and half the broth and get it all blended in 2 batches. Filling blender only 2/3 full is best as hot liquid expands.

  11. Return the soup to your pot and mix well. Add any additional seasoning to taste and feel free to add extras like nutmeg, allspice, cayenne pepper, etc… If skipping the chickpeas (which have a LOT of flavor) you’ll want to add extra seasoning to the soup. Keep covered over lowest heat setting until ready to serve.

  12. Dive in while it’s hot and top soup with seasoned chickpeas and your choice of toppings from the notes below. I like mine with chickpeas, scallions and a teeny drizzle of cream!

    Visit Jenn for more topping and spice ideas for your bowl!   This might be bookmark worthy –  Peas and Crayons 

Wishing you a happy, healthy holiday season!!

New Jammies was born as an environmentally responsible company offering 100% certified organic cotton and flame retardant-free children’s pajamas. Learn more at newjammies.com.

Camping To Bond

I hope you all had a wonderful Labor Day Weekend.    My family enjoyed a fun-filled camping trip in our home state of Colorado followed by a local celebratory parade.   We live in a place where we are lucky to be surrounded by wilderness, yet we still love to get out and camp.   One of the things I love the most about camping is that it allows us to leave our never ending TO-DO list at home and just focus on our family and enjoying time together outside.    We cook a little slower over the camp fire. We relax a bit more taking in the morning air or the evening sunset.   We wander a bit longer through the woods looking for bugs, plants, birds or rocks that catch our eye.    This month Jenny Jackson is sharing great ideas for family camping with us.  As the Fall leaves change, it’s a great time to get outside, explore, and enjoy the last days of warm weather.

Tips For A Fun Family Camping Getaway

Since 2014, an additional six million families are taking up camping per year. As a classic way to bond with the family, camping allows you and your family some time away from the real world and lets you focus on who matters most. When planning your next family camping trip, it is essential to bring the proper supplies, entertainment, and the right attitude to make your camping trip a success.

It Starts With Supplies

A good camping trip hinges on how well prepared the campers are. When collecting supplies, it’s best to start with the necessities. Tents, sleeping bags, and warm blankets protect you and your family from the elements and make your stay comfortable. Make sure to keep extra blankets especially for toddlers or young children. Flashlights, batteries, bug spray, and extra clothing are all crucial too, as they increase safety. Finally, the most important items to stock up on are food and utensils. While the amount of food you pack depends on the facilities available, a grill, pots and pans, cooking utensils, and dishwashing supplies are great to feed the whole family. Packing snacks and sweets such as s’mores will keep any child happy as well.

Entertainment and Activities

Children are often very active and curious, and it is imperative you keep them entertained and active during your camping trip. The last thing you want is to be constantly nagged by bored children and lose valuable serenity, so bringing along games and activities is a must. Activities such as nature scavenger hunts, flashlight tag, singing campfire songs, and making s’mores are all great ways to keep the family busy and bonding. For a more cerebral twist, reading and telling stories, nature walks to learn about the ecosystem, and animal spotting can all be fun educational ways to get closer during a family camping trip.

It’s All About Attitude

In today’s world, children are plugged into smartphones and computers while you are busy in your career. Camping is a way to unwind, but can also be a complete switch up from your normal routine. When making such a drastic change in scenery with your kids, it is important to have a good attitude and remain positive and engaging. It is also imperative you are organized and prepared for anything. Safety comes first and being ill-prepared is not a good situation to be in. Lastly, make sure your children are involved. By allowing them to memorize landmarks for directions, hold the compass, or carrying a whistle you are giving them responsibility and involvement in the decision making. This can make them more engaged and receptive.

Go Camping Soon

Camping as a family is both fun and healthy for the family relationship. In order to be prepared make sure you bring the proper supplies such as tents, sleeping bags, and plenty of food. Also, make sure you invest in activities or entertainment for the kids, anything from nature walks to skipping rocks can keep them attentive. And lastly, have a good positive attitude and be prepared. Your next family camping trip awaits.

~Jenny Jackson

Eat Right: Back to School Meals and Lunchbox Finds!

Back-to-school for New Jammies kids means new teachers, new school clothes, new friends and new experiences. It also means brainstorming new healthy lunch ideas for culinary variety to make sure the kids are eating right.    

This year year we discovered some mamas on a mission to test and find the best in eco-friendly lunch box options!  Yes, I still miss my metal Strawberry Shortcake lunch box from yesteryear, but now there’s a whole world of options to choose from that making packing and storage a cinch, while living up to our eco-expectations!

Still one of my favorites, the Bento Boxes, which are BPA- and phthalate-free and 100% recyclable, are extremely popular, especially this colorful divided lunch box, as they can help with portioning and organizing. We love Bentgo Kids, an innovative bento-style lunch box designed exclusively for active kids on the go, because you can put liquid dips in it and they won’t leak into other compartments with special sealed lid.

“What makes Bentgo Kids so much fun is the endless combinations of nutritious foods you can pack in the five convenient compartments,” says the company. “The largest compartment is the perfect size for a half sandwich or salad. Three mid-size compartments are great for fruit, veggies and other snack favorites. The smallest compartment is sized just right for dipping sauces. Bentgo Kids’ removable compartment tray allows you to mix and match the three fun colors to suit your child’s unique preference.”

Bentgo is also a purchase with a purpose, as the company is a proud supporter of Feed the Children. Try this Bentgo Kids All-in-One Lunch Box.

“Your purchase makes a difference in the lives of hungry children in America and around the world,” says Bentgo Kids.

Retro Mama Goes Green also has some fun non-toxic suggestions this year ranging from lunch bags to boxes!   Lisa says “Many lunch boxes can contain harmful things like PVC, lead, BPA, and phthalates. And disposable paper bags cost a lot of money over time and are wasteful. Thankfully there are some great waste-free, safe options out there.”

Keep it cool with our favorite eco-friendly and sweat free ice packs from

U- Konserve

Not only do we love their ice-packs, but this company is on a mission to save the planets from plastic straws and cups.   I must confess, recently my children swayed me to purchase some fun bendy plastic straws, but now seeing U-Konserve’s options and being reminded of the large impact of small choices, I’m loving this find.

For sustainable lunch packaging, we also love Two + Two re-usable and washable sandwich wraps and snack bags. Don’t waste ziplock bags and throw away plastic! These are made nearby in New Jammies home state of Colorado, and are food-safe and eco-friendly.    The sandwich wraps are easy to clean, come in fun prints, and create a great placemat for eating.   The snack bags come in multiple sizes to suit any hunger!

“This young company is run by two creative moms with a passion for style, sewing, Mother Earth, and doing what’s best (and cutest) for their little ones,” says Two+Two. “Products keep food fresh and uncontaminated with a proprietary lining that is free of lead, BPA, PVC and phthalates. The various sizes of eco-friendly reusable bags accommodate any and all packing organizing and traveling needs.”

Fill the snack bags and lunch boxes mentioned above with fresh-cut veggies, including carrot and celery sticks, cauliflower and broccoli pieces, and cherry tomatoes and cucumber slices from the garden, trail mix and granola, as healthy options.   I personally use them anytime I am on the go with kids as those little tummies have a big appetite all the time!

Now we’ve got all our amazing gear options, how do we making packing lunch fun, healthy, and easy on parents.     We’re digging this healthy food prep web-site Gimme Delicious  Showcasing colorful images of healthy, easy cooking, make ahead dishes that look amazing to eat at home or on the go.   Kids will be loving the rainbow of flavors here.   In addition to lunch, some of the pre-prep freezer ideas will make healthy, weeknight dinners on busy school nights ready to go!

This balanced dish is great for dinner or lunch….

Pesto Chicken Veggie Sheet Pan

 

 

 

 

 

 

Another mama that likes to keep lunch simple, veggie style is the author of  Veggies Don’t Bite! blog.    These quick packing lunches will keep kids coming back for more and you can put these together with ease even if you haven’t had your morning latte yet.   She also has other lunch box suggestions as well as veggie loving recipes for the whole family.

 

We hope your school year is off to a healthy start!   Eat right, play right, sleep tight!

New Jammies was born as an environmentally responsible company offering 100% certified organic cotton and flame retardant-free children’s pajamas. Learn more at newjammies.com.