I’m participating in National Blog Posting Month (NaBloPoMo) which means I’m blogging every day of November, 2013!

Weelicious is a charming site dedicated to feeding kiddos run by the lovely Catherine McCord. Catherine has also written two Weelicious cookbooks: Weelicious: 140 Fast, Fresh, and Easy Recipes and Weelicious Lunches: Think Outside the Lunch Box with More Than 160 Happier Meals. The recipe for Fruit and Seed Bars that I am sharing today was adapted from Weelicious Lunches.

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What I most appreciate about Catherine’s blog and her books is that the recipes are creative yet simple. In addition to these bars, I made her homemade fruit leather and it was terrific! I honestly had no idea it was so easy to make your own fruit leather.

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These bars are super quick to throw together and they are very yummy. I like them as is, slathered with additional nut or seed butter, and also crumbled into a bowl and splashed with some milk (like granola). Catherine’s recipe in the book calls for sunflower butter so her recipe is 100% nut free and appropriate for those with nut allergies. Note that I substituted cashew butter because that’s what I had on hand (so these are not nut-free).
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I’m participating in National Blog Posting Month (NaBloPoMo) which means I’m blogging every day of November, 2013!

Sitting a lot is associated with a host of health problems (including obesity) but unfortunately, it’s the way many of us spend much of our days. I am a pretty active person: I go to the gym and lift weights and/or do a Crossfit workout 4-5 days/week and I’m out and about with my kids a lot. Also, my job as a blogger includes cooking and photography (two things I do standing up). Despite all of this, however, I often still spend large portions of the day being sedentary because I am seated in front of a computer screen writing, doing social media, etc.

In an effort to counteract the effects of sitting so much, I’ve lately become interested in something called NEAT and I am doing all I can to increase mine. I think NEAT is pretty neat and I want you to know all about it, too!

NEAT | Healthy Green Kitchen

NEAT is an acronym for Non Exercise Activity Thermogenesis. According to Dr. James Levine, NEAT is defined as “the energy expenditure of all physical activities other than volitional sporting-like exercise”. In other words: NEAT is all the moving around you do that’s separate from the time you spend intentionally exercising (at the gym or out running, etc.).

Numerous studies have shown that NEAT varies greatly from person to person and that those who engage in the most NEAT burn far more calories during the day (and are consequently leaner) than those who are mostly sedentary. I’ve seen estimates that you can burn anywhere from an extra 300-600 calories/day just by increasing your NEAT. I am pretty sure we all have “that friend” who seems to have a crazy high metabolism and never gains weight no matter what they eat, right? I bet you there is nothing “magical” about their metabolism…they are likely just the type of person who just never stops moving…they probably have a very high NEAT!

An increased calorie burn is not the only reason to work on increasing your NEAT, though: according to this article in the NY Times, when we are not moving around, our insulin sensitivity drops and the enzymes responsible for dealing with fats in the body are adversely affected (both of which may increase risk for heart disease and Type 2 Diabetes). Being sedentary may also lead to postural problems, muscular imbalances, a decrease in overall flexibility, and other deleterious health outcomes for both children and adults. Many people seem to think that if they spend some time working out most days, this counteracts the bad stuff that happens when you sit a lot, but this does not actually seem to be the case. According to another NY Times article, you can train for a marathon but still be considered a “couch potato” based on the number of hours you sit each day…“time spent exercising does not supplant time spent sitting.”

Ok, so sitting a lot does not promote good health…there seems to be no doubt about that. But what can you do about it if the way you spend your day involves a lot of sitting? Are you just out of luck? Not necessarily. There are actually a lot of things you can do to offset the negatives of sitting. Here are 20 Ways To Increase Your NEAT.
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I’ve signed up for National Blog Posting Month which means I’m blogging every day of November, 2013.

Disclosure: This post is sponsored by Branch Basics. I am being compensated to share my thoughts on this product with you; the opinions expressed in this post are 100% my own.

I committed to using only toxin-free, eco-friendly products to clean my home years ago and while there are plenty of cleaners on the market that supposedly meet these criteria, I don’t really trust them because there seems to be a lot of “greenwashing” going on. As an alternative to using store-bought products, I’ve made some of my own homemade cleaners. But they don’t always work as well as I would like.

For these reasons, I was extremely excited to hear from the the lovely ladies of Branch Basics. They asked me to test out their product in my home and to share my experience with it here on my blog…I was happy to do so.

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What is Branch Basics? It’s a 100% natural, non-toxic, food-grade soap concentrate (there are zero synthetic ingredients: it’s made from purified water, fatty acids, coconut oil, organic alcohol, folic acid, minerals and enzymes derived from edible and seed-bearing plants). This one product can be diluted down to use on your laundry, stains, and surfaces throughout your home. You can also use it to rinse your produce, and it’s perfectly fine for your face, hands, and body. It is safe for children (even if accidentally ingested) and pregnant women; those who are immune compromised or chemically sensitive can safely use Branch Basics, as well.

I used it throughout my home and found that it worked remarkably well for many tasks in my kitchen and bathroom; it did a terrific job on my windows and carpets, too. I have not yet used it on my laundry but I will give that a try soon. The concentrate is very economical: according to the company’s website, 1 gallon of concentrate is enough to wash about 256 loads of laundry using about 1 T. concentrate per load. One gallon is also enough to make 24 all-purpose spray bottles!

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The only place I found it fell short was on my kitchen sink…my sink needs a lot of scouring! So I asked the owners of Branch Basics what to do and they suggested I combine their product with the all-natural powder cleanser Bon Ami. The combo worked like magic.

I love that Branch Basics is 100% natural and that it works so well, but you know what else I love? I love that it can help you simplify your life. When you use it, other cleaners are completely unnecessary. That slew of cleaning agents you have under your sink? Bye bye! This one is all you need.

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