Friday, February 4, 2011

From old bike part to cool fashion accssory

I saw this nifty craft idea, and my brother was sure willing to donate the bike tube in his room (which also doubles as an exercise stretch band). It is "up-cycled" - hehe, get it? 'Cycled'? Anyway, check it out - and the links with it! You are officially challenged to ascend to the next level of DIY crafting!

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

The Candy Conundrum

As an enemy of refined sugar, I am by extension an enemy of processed candy. But it wasn't always that way. Even now I feel guilty looking at brightly colored yarn and beads that remind me of candy - and enjoying it. As a younger child, the two things that appealed to me most about candy were 1) the variety and 2) the affordability, not to mention 3) the freedom. Saving my own money to buy brightly-colored candy felt like a subtle act of rebellion and something that made me "cool", not like the boring child of a health food nut. It now disturbs me that there are so many "new" ways to deliver sugar into a child's system, such as "sour sprays" and lickable "candy stamps". The parallels between the candy world and the drug world also disturb me - in fact, some people are now marketing methamphetamine in candy form to children.
As a former candy-lover, I hereby offer tips for parents to detract from the lure of candy to their children.
1) Show them other sources of color. Try to get them excited about planting flowers, vegetables, crayons, beads, yarn, etc. I can tell you that color is a key lure of candy, or at least it was for me.
2) Show them other sources of flavor. Have taste-test contests with fresh berries, dried fruit, salty nuts, etc. Explain and demonstrate to them how natural foods are more interesting because each berry/nut has a slightly different flavor. Get them tuned in to this aspect of food. If they absolutely must have a candy at the store, inquire about what it is that makes them want it. If it is a red-hot, maybe sandwiches with tomato soup and baked apples with extra cinnamon will satisfy them. If it is sour, try them on real lacto-fermented pickles (if they are not veggie-phobic like I was!) and homemade lemonade. If it is chocolate, make homemade chocolate that is naturally sweetened. Homemade coconut macaroons dipped in homemade chocolate topped with almonds would make a yummy Almond Joy substitute. Be creative.
3) Give them other ways to spend their allowance money. The stores with gumball machines usually also have similar machines for superballs, which are a colorful, fun alternative to candy. Encourage them to save up for bigger things like toys and craft supplies (if the girls are into crafts, that is) and maybe make charts showing how this much work over this many weeks will earn enough money to buy this . . .
4) Last but not least, educate them about the dangers of refined sugar and artificial flavorings. They will most likely not care. Explain how abstaining from candy and Kool-Aid can help them get better grades in school. Emphasize non-food rewards or healthy-food rewards and don't forget to make occasional treats of homemade honey or maple candies. Explain the difference between good and bad carbohydrates and the importance of moderation. This will work best if said child is interested in science. If they are interested in history, teach them about the sugar triangle and other aspects of the history of refined sugar, emphasizing the unnaturalness. I cannot guarantee that these tips will work, but some of them might have worked for me had my parents tried them, and it is worth a try to tame your child's inner sugar monster.