Back To School for Lunch

Back To School for Lunch

  By Holly Pellham Davis   With a staggering 1 in 3 children now clinically obese, it is more imperative than ever that we address healthy eating at home and in...

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Water... Life's Most Valuable Componet (next to the Air we breathe) Photo by Joslyn Taylor     I wrote this article on water a while back, but water will always be...

Sun vs. Sunscreen

Sun vs. Sunscreen

Enjoying The Hawaiian Sun ******************   By: Holly Pellham Davis   Who knew sunscreen could be so controversial? But, as with most products containing...

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By Holly Pellham Davis


With a staggering 1 in 3 children now clinically obese, it is more imperative than ever that we address healthy eating at home and in school lunchrooms across America. Food criteria has dramatically changed from clean, fresh, and nourishing to cheap, convenient, highly satiable, bio-chemically engineered foods loaded with additives. Not unlike creating demand for the latest toy or boy band, food company PR departments work overtime creating campaigns to entice our children to want certain foods. And the effects of this new food paradigm on our children’s current and long-term health is frightening.


In my last post, we discussed the importance of taking time to nourish your body with a healthy breakfast. Research shows dramatic drops in obesity rates (43% less likely) in people that eat a healthy breakfast each day (the key being healthy — fresh, low/no sugar, unprocessed — foods). I like to say, “Think out of the box by not eating anything that came from a box.” Remember, when we eat sugar and/or processed foods, our bodies will just crave more sugar and processed foods as the day goes on. It’s a vicious cycle.


Which brings us to our next stop, lunch.


As an example, let’s look at the eating habits of an average 4th grade boy. He wakes up 30 minutes before he is suppose to leave for school, gets dressed, grabs his backpack and a pop tart (17 grams of sugar), and rushes out the door for school. Snack time is 2 hours later when he consumes a cereal bar (11 grams of Sugar) and a package of M&M’s (31 grams of sugar). Another 2 hours pass and he heads to lunch and consumes a hot dog (nitrates, nitrites, processed meat) topped with a heap of of ketchup (8 grams of sugar in a 2 tbsp serving), a bottle of apple juice (15 grams of sugar), and chocolate cake (20 grams of sugar) for dessert. By 12:30 pm this child has consumed 102 grams of sugar (About 25 tsp’s) and not a single gram of fresh, nutritious food to support basic systems of the body or the proper growth and development of an adolescent (not to mention the fuel necessary for his brain to learn, retain, and reason in school. 


Not only are the short term effects detrimental — inability to sustain focus, low energy, mood swings — but over time, the toll becomes greater on the human body, often with symptoms of elimination issues, headaches, allergies, depression, inflammation, sallow skin, early puberty, endocrine system disruption, inability to sleep, lack of energy, and inability to focus. To make matters worse, if continued, these symptoms can become diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, and cancer.


We must make changes today in an effort to save the health of our children. The work is ours to do, but we must also partner with our schools.


The first line of defense is education (ironic since most of our children receive a large percentage of their food intake at school). The focus on education needs to change from, “eat your veggies” to one that educates on the relationship between health and wellness and fresh, healthy food. The relationship must be explored and developed. Children are fully capable of understanding the vital role food plays in good health and conversely, how bad “food” choices make your body feel bad and not function properly.


A typical school plate lunch contains foods that are heavily processed, full of preservatives, sodium, fillers, emulsifiers, MSG, sugar, hydrogenated oils, shortening, margarine, artificial dyes, artificial sweeteners, artificial flavorings, and colorings (not to mention meats laden with nitrates and nitrites). Foods are commonly fried and breaded in an effort to make them appealing to kids. Drinks, chips, desserts, and sugar-filled drinks are offered without controls. Children learn to dump their plate lunch food and only consume the sugar drink (or just as bad, ordering tea and spiking it with multiple packets of Splenda, which is 600 times sweeter than cane sugar and created by mixing sucrose with chlorine).


Schools across America also provide vending machines with sports drinks and sodas (containing BVO, HFCS, citric acid, and sodium benzoate), chips filled with chemicals, flavorings, and salt, and sugar-laden candy. And the à la carte available to kids each day typically include items like pizza and french fries (full of cancer-causing acrylamide).


You can continue the education process by exploring good food choices with your children. If your child eats school food, evaluate the menu with them, discuss their likes and dislikes, and help them make better choices from the offerings with a focus on avoiding vending machine purchases, desserts and processed foods and instead indulging in fresh salads, fresh vegetables, fresh fruits, and water. You could also send them to school with their favorite healthy protein, such as nuts and seeds. If a proper source of fresh, nutritious food can not be obtained from the school lunchroom source, plan and prepare a daily lunch at home. And enlist your kids to help. Get them involved, letting them partake in some hands-on learning while they take responsibility for their health. Last but not least, work with your school on offering fresh healthy choices in the lunchroom.


Here are my guidelines for the lunchroom:


Opt for pure water. Skip the milk offered at school, as it is not organic. Non-organic dairy is a major source of antibiotics and hormones in our food supply. Flavored milk is even worse, as it contains corn syrups and sugars that make is more like soda than milk. Similarly, skip tropical punches which contain sugar and dyes, iced teas, sports drinks in favor of pure, hydrating water. (After all, the human brain is mostly made of water.)

Implement a no dessert policy. Just because they are kids, does not mean they are “entitled” to sweets! Kids are entitled to be healthy and strong. I only offer desserts at home a couple times per week. Dessert should be an occasional treat, not a standard. I also encourage my kids to satisfy their sweet tooth with nature’s dessert- fruit!

Embrace veggies. Choose the salad bar or other fresh, raw, unprocessed (this includes no lunch meats) foods. If your school does not offer a fresh salad bar, select any fresh food option in the school line and ask for a double fresh portion, and skip the chicken fried meat, hot dog, hamburger, pizza, chicken nuggets, et al.

Review safe protein options with your children. This is the most challenging component to a healthy lunch room meal. Discuss beans (including burritos), soups, nut butters (containing no sugar or hydrogenated oils), and other alternative proteins. Be prepared to supplement from home. Almond butter packets, sprouted wheat tortillas, chicken breast leftovers from the previous night’s dinner are all great options.

Nixed packaged and vending processed foods. Much like the rule to shop the perimeter of a grocery store, teach your child to stay away from vending machines and individual-sized packaged chips, snack foods, and candy.


If you do prepare a homemade lunch for your kiddos, here are a few suggestions to “shake it up” a bit:


86 the sandwich bread. As an alternative to sandwich bread, use protein rich, sprouted wheat tortillas. Top with chopped grilled chicken, avocado, chopped organic red and yellow peppers and salsa. No grilled chicken? You can substitute black or pinto beans and throw on some broccoli sprouts, broccoli slaw, or chopped greens. Serve with hummus and carrots, celery, and red cabbage strips. Other alternatives to sandwich bread include, whole grain crackers (I love Mary’s Gone Crackers), a fresh romaine lettuce leaf to wrap food in, or a bed of organic greens with sliced protein and fresh veggies on top. Use sliced veggies and fruit to dip, push and eat with foods such as nut butters (instead of bread), hummus, and turkey breast (whole cooked, not processed). I even wrap my organic grass fed hamburger patty in romaine lettuce and top with avocado. Avoid the sandwich rut!

Double down on dinner. While making dinner the night before, double the recipe and package the leftovers (in a glass container with proper re-usable ice packs) for lunch. Add a fresh fruit medley, an organic apple, and a whole grain organic graham cracker with organic nut butter to round it out.

Serve it hot. Small meal size ceramic bowls with lids are a mom’s best friend when it comes to sending something hot to school for kids. Let your child know not to expect a pipping hot meal equivalent to what they get on the dinner table. When the food is delicious, children will be okay with this. Make some fresh whole grain pasta, toss with a dash of olive oil, some mixed veggies (such as frozen peas, carrots, and corn) added to boiling pasta water in the last 2 minutes of cooking, and a spoon full of marinara sauce. Wrap the outside of the bowl in heavy duty foil to insulate, and cover the top of bowl with parchment paper prior to placing the lid on the bowl. Serve with an organic cheddar cheese slice and organic apple slices.

Be a copy cat. Check out local lunch spots and the prepared food items at Whole Foods for ideas of what to send for your kiddos. Take notes. Do it yourself doesn’t have to be hard.

Start a special treat or theme day. Designate one day of the week a theme. It’s amazing how kids look forward to this. For example, every Friday is “Pizza Day” for my kiddos. On Thursdays, Whole Foods has their fresh 3-topping, brick oven pizzas on sale for $9.99. We purchase a grilled chicken, olive, and veggie pizza on Thursday, and on Friday morning I heat it up in the oven, slice it, and wrap the slices in parchment paper. I then place the pizza in large glass containers with lid and wrap in foil to insulate. You can serve with fresh greens, apple slices, fruit salad, or a veggie medley (sweet peppers, carrots, celery) and you’re good to go.


Most lunch offenders are like anytime food offenders — they often come in the name of cheap and easy.


These obstacles can easily be overcome with a little planning, education, and determination and will reap dividends in our precious children’s health.


We are Moms. Crusaders for our cause… our kids.


Mom Crusader,




Water... Life's Most Valuable Componet (next to the Air we breathe) Photo by Joslyn Taylor



I wrote this article on water a while back, but water will always be in the forefront of any conversation about healthy living.  As I have said many times, our health directly depends on the purity of our water, air and food.  Today, while water coming out of any and every faucet across America may be deemed "permitable" to drink, it is still contaiminated with heavy metals, industrial chemicals, disinfectant by products, hormones such as estrogen and pharmaceuticul drugs. 


EWG just released another look at bottled water. While the point maybe that most bottled water is commonly municiple, faucet water in a toxic plastic bottle with a nice price tag for convenience, I find the true point, to be how poor our water quality is and the causes. 


By: Holly Pellham Davis


When my kids tell me they are tired, don’t feel well, or basically grumble for any reason at all, I tell them to drink water. It’s pretty much my answer to everything… But, they know it comes with lots of stipulations, and it’s really not all that simple. Here’s why.


All water is not created equal. The formula for which about 70% of the earth is made of, 1 oxygen to 2 hydrogen atoms, is merely the tip of the iceberg. There are pollutants, minerals, additives, chemicals, and treatments to consider.


Let’s talk water types:


Tap or Municipal Water – The water flowing form our faucets typically contains additives like fluoride, which was introduced in the 1940s by a town in Michigan after studies that showed fluoride strengthened teeth. Many people believe the push for fluoride was a double mistake along with the use of mercury in fillings, both highly toxic and poisonous. Fluoride is a neuro-toxin which has been shown in studies to cause decreased and impaired cognitive development and lower IQs. After studying the effects on developing brains, we now know it is especially critical that fluorinated water never be mixed with infant formula. (By the way, the same dangers lurk in your average toothpaste. Opt for fluoride-free). In January 2011, the CDC reduced the levels of fluoride added to municipal water supplies after a report indicating that 2 in 5 children in America showed signs of fluoride poisoning. I believe that number to be higher. In cities all over America we are mass medicating the public with uncontrolled doses of toxic, poisonous Fluoride.    


Tap water is also contaminated with pharmaceuticals such as Prozac, Viagra, blood thinners, cancer drugs, and statins. (Even found in waters in the Arctic.) The threat is alarming, and its effects are inconceivable when you ponder what the combination of these drugs could possibly do to a developing brain or any living thing for that matter.


Treatments, such as the water disinfectant Chlorine, have become a necessary evil. While its a good thing that the chlorine kills the bacteria in the water, it’s usually our bodies that are left to filter the chlorine, and its highly toxic. Chlorine, when combined with organic compounds, result in disinfection by-poducts* or DBPs, which, according to the CDC, have been linked to liver, kidney, and nervous system problems, and are carcinogenic.


Bottled Water – Unbeknownst to most consumers, about 40% of all bottled water is tap water. (Nestle has recently been sued with claims of misleading consumers.) So not only do you need to worry about all of the above factors from the tap, but you also need to consider the toxic plastic bottle the water has been stored in. Ugh. We have to read the fine print and look for sources. Best bets are “Spring” or “Spring Mountain Water” with the source labeled clearly on the container. If it states, “municipal source,” forget about it. You are better off getting a glass form the tap and allowing it to sit for 30 minutes to 1 hour. It will naturally evaporate off many of the toxic DBPs, making it safer to drink. (You still get the pharmaceuticals, fluoride, etc though.)


Next, look for how its been treated. You want reverse osmosis at a minimum. Reverse osmosis systems remove most chlorine, inorganic, and organic contaminants as well as about 80% of fluoride and DBPs. Carbon filtration is another good layer of protection. Only use plastic bottled water in extenuating circumstances or if you have a brand in particular you use for health reasons. I have one I consume daily with my workout, guaranteed to be free of arsenic, DBP, chlorine, fluoride, MTBE, chromium 6, and the most difficult, trace pharmaceuticals. Note that with most RO water, unless minerals are added back, the filtering process also removes vital minerals. Make sure you add some back into your diet for proper balance. Take a good manesium supplement and liquid minerals to your RO water.  


Also, when you do need a bottled water, its comes from a friendly source and does not cause the surrounding people hardship and ALWAYS RECYCLE.  

Beautiful places do not always beget beautiful water.


Distilled Water – Another item to avoid is distilled water, as it has been boiled, which takes out the beneficial minerals and can be harmful to your health if consumed repeatedly. It is also very acidic. Save it for your iron.


Vitamin Water — So called “Vitamin” Waters are usually accompanied by high fructose corn syrup, dyes, and synthetic vitamins. It is nothing but a deceivingly healthy sounding, high-priced chemical cocktail.


Coconut Water – An excellent source of potassium and excellent in treating dehydration (especially associated with a holiday party hangover), coconut water can be a healthy choice. But remember that large soda companies are behind some brands. For example, a container of Zico typically contains 22 grams of sugar (almost the same amount that’s in soda), and that’s the plain version. Added-fruit varieties only increase the calorie count. If you are a coconut water fan, reach for the raw, naturally processed brands. (There are very few.)  Know the difference between Coconut water: the water the comes from the inside of the coconut. It is clear and thin and Coconut Milk which is actually from the flesh of the coconut and high in saturated fat and calories.  If you have had a hard workout and need electrolytes, add a dash of Himalayan salt to purified water, stir and drink. 


Be sure and support clean water by refusing to use chemical yard services, fertilizer. Purchase or grow organic food, know what's in your water in your area and hold industrial businesses accountable (meat processing, Chemical companies, Industrial farms, mining, etc) 


Here's to your health,






Enjoying The Hawaiian Sun



By: Holly Pellham Davis


Who knew sunscreen could be so controversial? But, as with most products containing chemicals brought to us by cosmetic companies, it's all to common today. So what are the best products available? What do we look for and how do we best protect our families from the possible harmful effects of too much sun?


We know the sun’s radiation, UVA (long wave) and UVB (short wave, most damaging) rays cause free radicals to increase in the skin.

Sun exposure damages cellular DNA, increases the signs of aging and increases risk of skin cancer. But before you run inside and put your caftan and XL brimmed chapeau on, that awesome star of our galaxy has some major benefits to health also. Let’s chat about a couple of those first.


           Vitamin D:      It’s actually not a vitamin at all, it’s a hormone.

(Background: In the 1930’s the dairy industry began fortifying milk with “vitamin” D)  Vitamin D is vital in mineral metabolism, supports the immune system and is essential to bone health and growth making it especially important to developing children. Recent studies demonstrate the importance of healthy levels of Vitamin D and a wide range of benefits to our health, specifically a reduction in risk of colon and breast cancer. Recent trends show Americans to be deficient in vitamin D due to the use of sunscreens which block the synthesis of vitamin D in the skin and the overall decrease in outdoor activity. To increase  your bodies vitamin D hormone, simply get direct sun (meaning without sunscreen) skin exposure for about 20 minutes per day. Your body will naturally  produce the hormone vitamin D you need.  Vitamin D supplements can be taken daily for those not wanting the direct sun approach, in addition to a diet rich in foods that support Vitamin D production such as wild salmon, organic free range egg yolks and mushrooms. 


         Be Happy.       Sunlight makes us happy. Like the chemical reaction in the body that causes the hormone, vitamin D to be produced when the skin is exposed to sunlight, the body has similar reactions that release other hormones and signals to the brain and body. Sunlight exposure helps regulate our sleep cycle, decrease stress and depression. Making a short daily dose of sun part of your wellness regime can be life changing.


So, what about skin protection for everyday exposure or the pool days of Summer?


Here are some tips and guidelines to ensure protection from exposure to harmful rays as well as potentially harmful chemicals commonly found in sunscreens:


  • Clothing, the first line of defense: Shade and protective clothing including hats, shirts and sunglasses are among your first lines of defense. Sunglasses or water googles with UV added protection for the eyes is also strongly advised for children and adults alike.
  • Stay out of O-Zone: Avoid sun exposure on high ozone days which can increase free radicals, skin damage and exacerbate problems with breathing. 
  • Liberal Application: Apply a BROAD SPECTRUM, (Block both UVA & UVB Rays) Sunscreen often and a LOT of it. Tests reveal, in order to have maximum protection, sunscreen must be applied in a large dosage that delivers the product completely over the skins surface. Half the “dosage” only gives half the protection.
  • Don’t get High on Numbers: Resist the temptation to get caught up in a numbers game when choosing sun protection. Products boasting SPF 50 do not always translate to greater UV protection or that you can stay in the sun longer. Go for an SPF in the 30 range, apply often and take breaks from direct exposure by seeking some shade.
  • NO SPRAY Sunscreens: Deep breath. This is a hot issue for me. Spray sunscreens should be banned from existence. Harmful chemicals are inhaled and can enter the bloodstream through the lungs with the possibility of causing damage to vital organs. In addition, many sunscreens contain powder, talc and other micro, nano properties that can be harmful if inhaled. The FDA recently banned all SPF (nano) from loose mineral powders, due to this health risk, but exempt small companies to make the change until December of this year. (Say what?)  If you must use a spray, please refrain from applying in public places as it will put others at risk. 
  • No Mixing: Don’t mix Sunscreens and Insect Repellants. It’s simply a toxic chemical cocktail. Use light colored clothing in addition to layering your mineral based sunscreen first, then apply your deet-free insect repellant. (More on that another time.)
  • No-Go Ingredients: Refrain from using any sunscreen product (including lip balms) containing these commonly used chemicals:

          Oxybenzone and/or Octinozate- Both have been shown to cause reproductive disorders, endocrine disruption and hormone mimicking activity in humans. These chemicals are highly toxic and pose significant risk to people as well as animals and aquatic life. 

           Retinyl Palmitate (vitamin A)- Research shows retinyl palmitate acts as a photo carcinogen, speeding up the development of skin tumors and legions on sun, UV radiation exposed skin. With sun exposure alone, free radicals are are formed and damage to DNA strands occur which contribute to the cause of skin cancer. With the presence of vitamin A, that skin damage increases, including tumor and lesion growth, compared to those without vitamin A.  In my own research over the last several years, I examined the findings of studies such as this one and strongly believe retinyl palmitate should not be used in sunscreens, skin lotions or other applications for sun exposed skin. It can take 10-15 years for this type of research to reach mainstream and be “applied” to products. I want you to be informed now. Read your labels carefully.    


Best choices for sunscreens are mineral based, zinc oxide & titanium dioxide.

Despite the fact sunscreens and loose powder mineral makeup with SPF contain nano particles which carry a risk of inhalation, mineral based sunscreens are safer and less toxic, making them a better choice than chemical sunscreen varieties. Zinc oxide is king. Keep in mind the sunscreens that cause you to look like Casper, have lower levels of nano sized particles in them. We can all stand a ghost effect in the name of health and true anti aging benefits can’t we? 


Some of my trusted, personal favorite sunscreens in my beach bag for kiddos include California Baby Sunscreen stick which I love for the easy application to the kids face and shoulders, Aubrey Organics is a brand I totally trust. The SPF lotion goes on a little thick and white so the kids may bark a bit, but this mom loves its protection!


And, for me it’s Devita’s SPF 30 for body  and Renee Rouleau’s spf 30 moisturizer for face. 


If you would like to dive into the deep end of sunscreens a little deeper, check out  Environmental Working Group’s “Guide to Safer Sunscreens”! You can find the complete report here  which includes awesome information including ratings on the sunscreens they tested. 


Here's to a safe summer vacation!


Holly Pellham Davis


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