This post is a long time coming! And I’m so excited to finally be sharing my bedroom with you all.
We’ve now been in our home for a year and a bit, and although it’s (still!) not complete, we’re enjoying working on the finishing details here and there. Honestly, I don’t think we will ever be “done”, and that is okay. This entire experience has made me way more patient, realistic, and I’ve learned to set my expectations super low on every project so that instead of being disappointed, I’m often positively surprised!
We moved with just boxes, zero furniture, and essentially had to start over in that department. That meant a new bed, a new mattress and all new linens, since we decided to make the jump from a queen size mattress to a king (literally one of the best life decisions, ever). My husband and I are both DIY-ers, and serious thrift store shoppers, and we knew that we wanted to build a bed ourselves, then find the rest of bedroom furniture second-hand. The one place where we knew we wanted to really take our time considering was a mattress and the bedding.
If you read this blog, you probably care about your health to some degree. Like me, you may prioritize buying organic produce, splurge on environmentally-conscious clothing, and look to sustainable skincare and beauty products. But have you ever thought about your bedroom environment? We spend a third of our life in bed (at least we should), so it’s just as important to consider the things that we interact with in our homes, not just what goes in and on our bodies. In fact, the greatest exposure to chemicals you can have in a day, could be while you’re sleeping.
When I started looking into buying a mattress, I found the options were totally overwhelming. And with so many retailers moving to online platforms and selling directly to consumers, prices have been slashed considerably, and the deals are tempting. Mattresses are one of those things that seem pretty innocuous, and maybe even a place to save a few bucks. But dig a little deeper and you’ll see that the thing you spend so much time on, is not the thing you should spending less money on, as you’ll be paying for cheaper materials with your health. Modern, conventional mattresses are made with a laundry list of harmful substances that can be affecting you and your family.
One of the most offensive ingredients found in conventional mattresses is memory foam made from polyurethane; a highly flammable, petroleum-based material. Polyurethane foam emits Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) that can cause eye, nose and throat irritation, headaches, nausea, and can also damage the liver, kidneys and central nervous system, according to the Environmental Protection Agency and the Occupational Health and Safety Administration. Un-ironically referred to as “solid gasoline”, polyurethane foam is typically wrapped in or treated with fire retardant chemicals to meet the Federal and State flammability standards in the US, otherwise it would be totally unsafe.
Which brings me to the second thing to watch out for in mattresses, and that is chemical fire-retardants (CFRs). These are compounds added to the materials in a mattress to protect you, and they are an inexpensive way to meet safety standards. The issue is that CFRs do not fully bind to materials, and are released into the air through the mattress, then build up in the body causing some people lifelong health issues.
Formaldehyde, antimony, boric acid, and halogenated flame retardants are some of the most damaging CFRs found in modern mattresses, and the frustrating thing is that companies are not required to disclose which ones they are using. Unless a mattress company is explicitly eliminating these chemicals from their production and using a natural material alternative, they are likely using one of the harmful chemicals listed above.
I looked at a number of organic / natural mattress companies in my research, and the one that stood out to me was Naturepedic. They are made with certified organic cotton, wool, and latex. For heavy-duty support without any health or allergy concerns, Naturepedic only uses the highest quality innersprings available made from recycled steel.. , and steel, with Naturepedic ensured the purity of every material used, along with fair labour practices.
I reached out to Naturepedic, to see if they would be open to me trying a mattress out and blogging about it. They agreed, and sent me their EOS (Ergonomic Organic Sleep) mattress that allows for fully customized layers for finding the exact right amount of firmness (you can even choose different support styles from your sleep partner, or swap out the layers down the line in case your preferences change). I’d never heard of anything like that before, and though it was so brilliant! I went to the showroom in Toronto to try out the mattress in person, which was very helpful, but you can also just order online if you know what kind of consistency you like. The mattress components were delivered to my door, and it was easy to assemble, as everything gets zipped into a giant, certified organic cotton casing.
After spending the last twelve months on this bed, I can confirm that it’s been the best year of sleep in my entire life (even post-child, haha!). Besides the fact that I love going to bed knowing that I am breathing completely clean air, and that the materials that went into the mattress were made with a deep commitment to protecting the environment, it’s simply the most supportive and comfortable mattress I’ve ever tried. Period. I cannot recommend this mattress enough!
The other thing to consider when outfitting your bedroom is the bedding itself. Because we come into direct, skin-to-product contact with these textiles, it’s essential to choose something non-toxic. Most bedding on the market is made with cotton, one of the most chemical-laden crops grown. According to Pesticide Action Network North America, “Conventionally grown cotton uses more insecticides than any other single crop and epitomizes the worst effects of chemically dependent agriculture. Each year cotton producers around the world use nearly $2.6 billion worth of pesticides — more than 10 per cent of the world’s pesticides and nearly 25 per cent of the world’s insecticides.”
If you’re going to sleep in cotton, choose organic whenever you can. Linen is a great alternative material because it is a much lower impact material on the environment, and requires very little intervention to be grown.
Coyuchi is a brand recommended to me by my dear friend Elenore, who has the highest standards I know of 😉 Coyuchi’s textile line is not only 100% organic, but also consciously processed, meaning that they use low-impact dyes for colour that is kind to the planet and our sensitive skin.
Coyuchi offered to send me some bedding to try out and I was instantly obsessed. Their textiles are beyond delicious, super soft, and incredibly comfortable. For a duvet cover, I chose the Crystal Cove pattern in white. I loved this choice since it’s reversible – a textured weave that looks cozy in the winter, and a crinkled cotton underside, which I like to face up in the summer. I also love their Topanga Matelasse blanket, shown here in warm stripe, which is also reversible (super convenient if you want to change up the look of your bedding with a quick flip!). For winter, their Cloud Brushed flannel sheets are super luxurious, and especially enjoyable it’s very hard to find organic flannel! Words cannot describe the feeling of slipping into these on a chilly night. The giant back pillows in the bed are also from Coyuchi, and are perfect if you have an open-frame bed without a headboard. I like to sit up and read in bed, and these pillows are firm enough to act as a headboard itself.
When you’re shopping for any kind of textile (bedding, furniture, or clothing), the most important mark to look for is the Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) certification. GOTS is recognized as the world’s leading processing standard for textiles made from organic fibers. It defines high-level environmental criteria along the entire organic textiles supply chain and requires compliance with social criteria as well. Unlike most textile and mattress companies, both Coyuchi and Naturepedic are GOTS certified and adhere to their strict standards for agriculture and labour.
Okay, let’s get to the recipe! I experimented with these breakfast bites for a long time. At first, I was blending up cashews to make flour, but that got expensive, and ultimately I wanted the recipe to be allergen-free (so the nuts had to go!). As an alternative, I opted for hemp seeds, which worked beautifully. It’s easy to make your own hemp “flour” in a food processor in a few seconds. I’ve been using it baked goods lately and love how moist and tender the results are!
I used strawberries and rhubarb for these nuggets of joy, but since we’re moving into stone fruit season, I’ll soon be switching it up and using peaches, plums, pluots, apricots, and cherries in their place. Any fruit will work as long as it’s not super moist (like melons). Raspberries, blueberries, and blackberries would be lovely here too. Simply use 1 cup of chopped fresh fruit in any combination that tickles your fancy. To change up the flavour even more, add orange zest, warm spices like cinnamon and cardamom, or even some cacao powder for a chocolate version. Yum!
I really wanted to make a successful vegan version of these, so I tried using banana in place of the egg. The results were decent, but a little too moist. If I made these again, I would use the banana plus a tablespoon of ground flax seeds. If any of you do that, please let me know in the comments!
Strawberry Rhubarb Hemp Breakfast Bites
1 ½ cups / 215g hemp seeds
¼ cup / 35g arrowroot
¼ tsp. flaky salt, plus more for garnish, if desired
1 tsp. baking powder
1 egg (or 1 ripe banana, mashed)
¼ cup / 60ml pure maple syrup
2 tsp. vanilla extract (or ½ tsp. vanilla powder)
½ cup / 85g chopped strawberries
½ cup / 60g chopped rhubarb (2-3 slim stalks)
expeller-pressed coconut oil for greasing (or use muffin liners
1. Lightly grease a 12-cup muffin tin with coconut oil. Preheat oven to 350°F / 175°C.
2. Wash the strawberries and rhubarb well. Slice the rhubarb into small discs, and cut the strawberries into small chunks. Reserve 3 strawberries for topping the breakfast bites, if desired (remove greens, then slice them top to bottom). Set fruit aside.
3. In a food processor, blend hemp seeds until they’re a fine powder (don’t go too far or you’ll end up with hemp seed butter!). Add the arrowroot, salt and baking powder and pulse a few times to combine.
4. In a medium bowl, whisk the egg or banana, maple syrup, and vanilla extract together. Add the hemp seed flour blend, and stir to combine. Fold in the rhubarb and strawberries.
5. Spoon a heaping tablespoon of the batter into each prepared muffin tin. If desired, place a slice of strawberry on top of each bite. Set in the oven and bake for 25-30 minutes, until lightly golden.
6. Remove from the oven and let cool completely.
7. Enjoy! Store leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for five days.
Aside from getting the chemicals out of your space, here are five other ways to improve the health of your bedroom, and your sleep!
Add plants – having a couple of living things in your sleeping space keeps the air clean and fresh. Snake plants, areca palms, aloe vera and orchids are especially helpful, since they absorb CO2 at night, even when they are not photosynthesizing.
Consider airflow – keeping a window cracked at night is a good way to get some fresh air while you sleep. If it’s noisy outside, keep your window open during the day to ensure full air exchange, and close it right before bed. It’s very important to keep the air in your space fresh and moving.
Salt rock lamps – these are said to purify the air by omitting negative ions. I cannot confirm this in any way, but I can confirm that the light they give off is incredibly soothing and helps me wind down at the end of the day. Overhead lighting is very stimulating (and let’s be honest, not overly sexy).
Keep the devices out – don’t work in bed, and avoid using your phone before snoozing. Blue light from screens inhibits our body’s ability to make melatonin, our sleep-wake hormone. If you choose to keep your phone in your room overnight, set it to airplane mode while you sleep so you’re not exposing yourself to radiation from EMFs (Electromagnetic Field).
Beeswax candles – yes, it’s cozy to burn candles before bed, but paraffin candles pollute the air, full stop. Soy is a better alternative, but beeswax is my favourite since it actually helps purify the air by omitting negative ions, and removing dust and dander.
Show me your Hemp Breakfast Bites on Instagram: #mnrbreakfastbites
Special thanks to my dear friend Sara for taking these photos of me (and putting up with my awkwardness for at least two hours!). http://matandsara.com/
to set yourself up for success, think about planning a healthy diet as a number of small, manageable steps rather than one big drastic change. If you approach the changes gradually and with commitment, you will have a healthy diet sooner than you think.
Simplify. Instead of being overly concerned with counting calories or measuring portion sizes, think of your diet in terms of color, variety, and freshness. This way it should be easier to make healthy choices. Focus on finding foods you love and easy recipes that incorporate a few fresh ingredients. Gradually, your diet will become healthier and more delicious
Start slow and make changes to your eating habits over time. Trying to make your diet saine overnight isn’t realistic or smart. Changing everything at once usually leads to cheating or giving up on your new eating plan. Make small steps, like adding a salad ( full of different color vegetables ) to your diet once a day or switching from butter to olive oil when cooking. As your small changes become habit, you can continue to add more saine choices to your diet.
Small Changes Matter. Every change you make to improve your diet matters. You don’t have to be perfect and you don’t have to completely eliminate foods you enjoy to have a healthy diet. The long term goal is to feel good, have more energy, and reduce the risk of cancer and disease. Don’t let your missteps derail you—every healthy food choice you make counts.
Drink Water. Consider water as one of the central components to your diet. Water helps flush our systems of waste products and toxins, yet many people go through life dehydrated—causing tiredness, low energy, and headaches. It’s common to mistake thirst for hunger, so staying well hydrated will also help you make healthier food choices.
People often think of healthy eating as an all or nothing proposition, but a key foundation for any saine diet is moderation. Despite what certain fad diets would have you believe, we all need a balance of carbohydrates, protein, fat, fiber, vitamins, and minerals to sustain a healthy body.
Try not to think of certain foods as “off-limits. ” When you ban certain foods or food groups, it is natural to want those foods more, and then feel like a failure if you give in to temptation. If you are drawn towards sweet, salty, or unhealthy foods, start by reducing portion sizes and not eating them as often. Later you may find yourself craving them less or thinking of them as only occasional indulgences.
Think smaller portions. Serving sizes have ballooned recently, particularly in brasseries. When dining out, choose a starter instead of an entrée, split a dish with a friend, and don’t order supersized anything. At home, use smaller plates, think about serving sizes in realistic terms, and start small. Visual cues can help with portion sizes—your serving of meat, fish, or chicken should be the size of a deck of cards. A teaspoon of oil or salad is about the size of a matchbook and your slice of bread should be the size of a CD case.
Healthy eating is about more than the food on your plate—it is also about how you think about food. Healthy eating vêtements can be learned and it is important to slow down and think about food as nourishment rather than just something to gulp down in between meetings or on the way to pick up the kids.
Eat with others whenever possible. Eating with other people has numerous social and emotional benefits—particularly for children—and allows you to model saine eating vêtements. Eating in front of the TV or computer often leads to mindless overeating.
Chew slowly. Take time to chew your food and enjoy mealtimes, savoring every biroute. We tend to rush though our meals, forgetting to actually taste the flavors and feel the textures of our food. Reconnect with the joy of eating.
Listen to your body. Ask yourself if you are really hungry, or have a glass of water to see if you are thirsty instead of hungry. During a meal, stop eating before you feel full. It actually takes a few minutes for your brain to tell your body that it has had enough food, so eat slowly.
Eat breakfast, and eat smaller meals throughout the day. A saine breakfast can jumpstart your metabolism, and eating small, healthy meals throughout the day ( rather than the standard three grande meals ) keeps your energy up and your metabolism going.
Fruits and vegetables are the foundation of a healthy diet. They are low in calories and nutrient dense, which means they are packed with vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and fiber.
Try to eat a rainbow of fruits and vegetables every day and with every meal—the brighter the better. Colorful, deeply colored fruits and vegetables contain higher concentrations of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants—and different colors provide different benefits, so eat a variety. Aim for a minimum of five portions each day.
Greens. Branch out beyond bright and dark green lettuce. Kale, mustard greens, broccoli, and Chinese cabbage are just a few of the options—all packed with calcium, magnesium, iron, potassium, zinc, and vitamins A, C, E, and K.
Sweet vegetables. Naturally sweet vegetables—such as corn, carrots, beets, sweet potatoes, yams, onions, and squash—add saine sweetness to your meals and reduce your cravings for other sweets.
Fruit. Fruit is a tasty, satisfying way to fill up on fiber, vitamins, and antioxidants. Berries are cancer-fighting, apples provide fiber, oranges and mangos offer vitamin C, and so on.
The antioxidants and other nutrients in fruits and vegetables help protect against certain variétés of cancer and other diseases. And while advertisements abound for supplements promising to deliver the nutritional benefits of fruits and vegetables in pill or powder form, research suggests that it’s just not the same.
A daily regimen of nutritional supplements is not going to have the same impact of eating right. That’s because the benefits of fruits and vegetables don’t come from a single vitamin or an isolated antioxidant.
The health benefits of fruits and vegetables come from numerous vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals sérieux together synergistically. They can’t be broken down into the sum of their parts or replicated in pill form.
Choose saine carbohydrates and fiber sources, especially whole grains, for long lasting energy. In addition to being delicious and satisfying, whole céréales are rich in phytochemicals and antioxidants, which help to protect against coronary heart disease, certain cancers, and diabetes. Studies have shown people who eat more whole grains tend to have a healthier heart.
Healthy carbs ( sometimes known as good carbs ) include whole céréales, beans, fruits, and vegetables. Healthy carbs are digested slowly, helping you feel full longer and keeping blood sugar and insulin levels durable.
Unhealthy carbs ( or bad carbs ) are foods such as white flour, refined sugar, and white rice that have been stripped of all bran, fiber, and nutrients. Unhealthy carbs digest quickly and cause spikes in blood sugar levels and energy.
Include a variety of whole céréales in your healthy diet, including whole wheat, brown rice, millet, quinoa, and barley. Experiment with different céréales to find your favorites.
Make sure you’re really getting whole céréales. Be aware that the words stone-ground, multi-grain, cent pour cent wheat, or bran can be deceptive. Look for the words “whole grain” or “100% whole wheat” at the beginning of the ingredient list. In the U. S., check for the Whole Grain Stamps that distinguish between partial whole grain and cent pour cent whole grain.
Try mixing céréales as a first step to switching to whole céréales. If whole grains like brown rice and whole wheat pasta don’t sound good at first, start by mixing what you normally use with the whole grains. You can gradually increase the whole grain to cent pour cent.
Avoid refined foods such as breads, pastas, and breakfast cereals that are not whole grain.
Good sources of saine fat are needed to nourish your brain, heart, and cells, as well as your hair, skin, and nails. Foods rich in certain omega-3 fats called EPA and DHA are particularly important and can reduce cardiovascular disease, improve your mood, and help prevent dementia.
Monounsaturated fats, from plant oils like canola oil, peanut oil, and olive oil, as well as avocados, nuts ( like almonds, hazelnuts, and pecans ), and seeds ( such as pumpkin, sesame ). Polyunsaturated fats, including Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids, found in fatty fish such as salmon, herring, mackerel, anchovies, sardines, and some cold water fish oil supplements. Other sources of polyunsaturated fats are unheated sunflower, corn, soybean, flaxseed oils, and walnuts.
Protein gives us the energy to get up and go—and keep going. Protein in food is broken down into the 20 amino acids that are the body’s basic building blocks for growth and energy, and essential for maintaining cells, tissues, and organs. A lack of protein in our diet can slow growth, reduce muscle mass, lower immunity, and weaken the heart and respiratory system. Protein is particularly important for children, whose bodies are growing and changing daily.
Try different variétés of protein. Whether or not you are a vegetarian, trying different protein sources—such as beans, nuts, seeds, peas, tofu, and soy products—will open up new alternatives for healthy mealtimes. Beans : Black beans, navy beans, garbanzos, and lentils are good possibilités. Nuts : Almonds, walnuts, pistachios, and pecans are great choices. Soy products : Try tofu, soy milk, tempeh, and veggie burgers for a change.
Downsize your portions of protein. Many people in the West eat too much protein. Try to move away from protein being the center of your meal. Focus on equal servings of protein, whole grains, and vegetables. Focus on quality sources of protein, like fresh fish, chicken or turkey, tofu, eggs, beans, or nuts. When you are having meat, chicken, or turkey, buy meat that is free of hormones and antibiotics.
Calcium is one of the key nutrients that your body needs in order to stay strong and saine. It is an essential building block for lifelong bone health in both men and women, as well as many other important functions. You and your bones will benefit from eating plenty of calcium-rich foods, limiting foods that deplete your body’s calcium stores, and getting your daily dose of magnesium and vitamins D and K—nutrients that help calcium do its travail. Recommended calcium levels are 1000 mg per day, 1200 mg if you are over 50 years old. Take a vitamin D and calcium supplement if you don’t get enough of these nutrients from your diet.
Dairy : Dairy products are rich in calcium in a form that is easily digested and absorbed by the body. Sources include milk, yogurt, and cheese. Vegetables and greens : Many vegetables, especially leafy green ones, are rich sources of calcium. Try turnip greens, mustard greens, collard greens, kale, romaine lettuce, celery, broccoli, fennel, cabbage, summer squash, green beans, Brussels sprouts, asparagus, and crimini mushrooms. Beans : For another rich source of calcium, try black beans, pinto beans, kidney beans, white beans, black-eyed peas, or baked beans.
If you succeed in planning your diet around fiber-rich fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean protein, and good fats, you may find yourself naturally cutting back on foods that can get in the way of your saine diet—sugar and salt.
Sugar causes energy ups and downs and can add to health and weight problems. Unfortunately, reducing the amount of candy, cakes, and encas we eat is only part of the solution. Often you may not even be aware of the amount of sugar you’re consuming each day. Large amounts of added sugar can be hidden in foods such as bread, canned soups and vegetables, pasta sauce, margarine, instant mashed potatoes, frozen dinners, fast food, soy sauce, and ketchup. Here are some tips : Avoid sugary drinks. One 12-oz soda has about 10 teaspoons of sugar in it, more than the daily recommended limit ! Try sparkling water with lemon or a splash of fruit juice. Eat naturally sweet food such as fruit, peppers, or natural peanut butter to satisfy your sweet tooth.