How to make healthy choices every day

Strawberry Rhubarb Hemp Breakfast Bites

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!


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/



48 thoughts on “Strawberry Rhubarb Hemp Breakfast Bites”

  • A good mattress is always hard to find but I’m glad you got yours. Also the breakfast bites look super yummy! I have never tried hemp seed flour but will definitely try now. Thank you for the recipe.

    • Hey Stephanie,

      Thank you – me too! It’s been a life-changing experience (having a good mattress!).
      Hope you try and bites and enjoy!!

      xo, Sarah B

  • I think I made an error with this… I used hemp seeds but not hulled, I guess thats wrong and mine look like the inside of a volcano 🙂

    • Hey Kelly,

      Oh nooooo! I’ll definitely make that clearer in the recipe. So sorry to hear that! I hope you’ll try again 🙂

      xo, Sarah B

  • I made these last night and they were so bitter that I had to throw them out. Very disappointing as they smelled so good and were meant to be our breakfast this morning. Not sure what happened, but I would never make them again.

    • Hi Steph,

      Oh wow, so sorry to hear that! I wonder what happened?! I had several people taste-test each time I made them and loved them, so something definitely went wrong. I totally understand how annoying it is when a recipe doesn’t work!

      xo, Sarah B

  • I made these on Sunday morning and have yummy, grab-n-go breakfasts all week! I couldn’t find rhubarb so doubled the strawberries. I was nervous about over-processing the hemp seeds, so mine have a little crunch to them (which I love)! Delicious, nutty, filling!

  • I tried the hemp breakfast bites this morning. I substituted blueberries for the strawberry and rhubarb , an adaptation Sarah mentioned, and they were amazing! I highly recommend them.

    Raina

  • A good mattress is a real struggle to find that’s so true. These delicious treats are just the thing to enjoy when welcoming a new day, absolutely scrumptious!

  • Hi! What a great post! We bought a naturepedic for our daughter when she moved from her crib bed to a double bed. I’ve had to sleep in her bed at times and it is indeed comfortable. But knowing there are no harmful chemicals floating around is the best peace of mind. We need to replace our very old mattress and I was initially looking at an Endy, because I hear people raving about them all over social media and appear to be wildly popular in Canada. They claim to be toxic free and latex free. Did you happen to incorporate that company into your research?

    Oh – and that recipe? Looks really good. When I make them, I will be sure to leave a review.

    Thank you!!
    Caroline

    • Hi Caroline,

      So great you bought a Naturepedic for your daughter…lucky her!
      I did look into Endy when I was researching. They spewed out (word for word) the exact same claims that a couple of other online mattress companies told me about their low VOCs and what is “not” in their foam. It’s 100% polyurethane in Endy’s case, and the issues with that, I discussed above. If you’re not allergic to natural latex, definitely go that route. It’s safer for you and the environment. If cost is an issue with Naturepedic, write to my email and I can suggest a more affordable option: sarah@mynewroots.org

      Smiles,
      Sarah B

  • HI Sarah,
    The recipe looks wonderful. I was wondering about the pan you baked them in? It looks non-stick- that is pretty toxic stuff. Is your pan a good brand for non-stick- I have been trying to find some good baking pans that are healthy. Thanks and your posts are always so lovely!
    Sarah

    • Hi Sarah 🙂

      Okay I admit it…I made these for the photo! I use silicon cups but they are HIDEOUS, haha. I shouldn’t set a bad example like that and I’m sorry. I’ve been curious to try some of the ceramic ones out on the market now. If you find one you like, let me know!

      xo, Sarah B

  • These look YUM. and I’m always on the hunt for new ways to use hemp seeds!

    Unfortunately I am not able to tolerate arrowroot (or tapioca), and I know coconut flour is so absorbent. What would you suggest I use in its place? THANKS so much!

  • Hi Sara – I also buy Coyuchi bedding, and I did a ton of research too. I also went with Obasan – from another reader – because I was concerned about EMFs with inner springs. But the Obasan – even though they say the ONLY INGREDIENT is an organic tree product – it smelled for a long time 🙁 Plus I find it uncomfortable and my back often hurts.
    I was thinking of switching to a mattress from LIFEKIND. Anyone have one of these? Also – what do you think about inner springs with EMFs?
    Thanks i’m SO EXCITED TO MAKE THIS RECIPE. I have your wonderful cookbook and have made almost everything plus all your blog posts comes out sooooo good. I will also be getting some of those plants for my bedroom. Carol

    • Hello Carol,

      Sorry to hear about your back and mattress! Honestly, we sure do all we can and still experience downsides once in a while! I haven’t heard of LIFEKIND, but I’ll look into it. And I just reached out to Naturepedic about EMFs (and if they’ve measured for them) and I’ll let you know as soon as I hear something.
      I hope you love the recipe! And that you’re enjoying the cookbooks too.

      All love,
      Sarah B

    • Hi Carol!

      Thank you for your patience. I have the answer from Naturepedic about the EMFs in inner springs:

      “The steel in a mattress does not conduct or attract EMF. EMF is found where there is live electricity (i.e., in wires, computers, television, clock next to your bed, microwave, and cell phones). Even if you unplugged all of your electronics in your bedroom, electricity would still be active around the outlets. There are EMF meters that you can use to determine where the EMF is highest and lowest in your room. With all the live electrical wiring running through the walls and ceiling in a typical interior space, EMF levels can vary considerably from one wall area to another in the same room. EMF in a space is not affected by the presence of an innerspring mattress. The innerspring is not attracting, amplifying or magnifying the EMF that is already present, and choosing not to sleep on an innerspring mattress will NOT reduce your exposure to the actual source of EMF in your home. To reduce your exposure, we recommend figuring out where your EMF reading is lowest in your bedroom—and place your bed there.”

      I hope that helps clear things up and that you find a mattress you love!

      All the best,
      Sarah B

  • Thanks for this. So important. I would add to this that people show avoid use of most types of air fresheners (including scented candles, etc., although the verdict is out on incense sticks) as they pollute the air. And, apparently, kids’ rooms tend to contain the most toxins in the air– because of the use of fire retardants used in their pajamas and mattresses, plushy/soft/carpet textiles made from plastics/ petroleum that give off gases, and cheaply made plastic toys (like, say, a rubber duck) that are even more harmful when put in a warm bath. Here’s a link with more info https://www.epa.gov/report-environment/indoor-air-quality

    • Thank you for your thoughtful comment, Olivia. It’s definitely good to avoid both “air fresheners” and cheap plastics when we can. Thank you for the article link! All the best to you <3

      In health,
      Sarah B

  • Dear Sarah,
    thank you for this informative post! I’ve been looking for a good quality organic mattress for some time now and I’m pretty overstrained to be honest. I would like to read (and see) more of your beautiful home and how you furnished it in a healthy way. 🙂

    • Hi Tine!

      You’re very welcome. It’s a big, confusing world out there, but I’m totally sold on this mattress…I wanted to spend at least a year on it before recommending it to anyone, and just for the record, they are NOT paying me to say how great it is 😉 I hope you find what you’re looking for. More house pics to come!

      xo, Sarah B

  • Great post! I took the plunge and purchased my first organic mattress and bedding from a company called Obasan a few years ago . I have never slept better! I wish I had known more about linen vs. cotton at the time, though. When the time comes to replace sheets, I will definitely be going with linen. Thanks for the info.

    P.S. Those bites sound delicious! There’s still rhubarb at my farmer’s market, so I just might have to make them soon.

    • Thanks Allison!

      I’ve heard good things about Obasan as well, although a reader here just left a comment about how it still smells after a very long time. Did you have this experience?
      And yes, go with linen next time – you will NEVER sleep on anything else! It’s so dreamy, soft, and it only gets better when you wash it!
      I hope you enjoy the bites. So great you still have rhubarb at the market <3

      xo, Sarah B

      • Hmmm. that’s interesting. I didn’t have any issues with the smell from my Obasan mattress, but I purchased mine 5 years ago now, so perhaps something has changed.

        Can’t wait to try linen!

        And haha, I think the rhubarb is all done now… I might try making these with peaches instead. 🙂

  • Hi Sarah

    I was about to buy a mattress using the CertiPUR-US polyurethane foam that is meant to not use any of these nasty chemicals until I saw your post! do you have any thoughts on the CertiPUR-US foam?

    In Australia the mattresses that are similar to the one you purchased are very expensive so i was looking at the next best thing.

    Thank you! 🙂

    • Hi Alex,

      Great question…CertiPUR is a company founded by foam producers, so I actually wouldn’t trust them. I’ve been in touch with several online order mattress companies to hear what they had to say about their mattress ingredients, VOCs etc, and they all give me the same spiel: that they are CertiPUR “certified” and totally safe. If a foam producer is creating the safety standards for certification, it doesn’t make much sense! Look for a natural latex mattress if you can. They tend to me cheaper. Bonus points if it’s GOLS-certified. Good luck!

      Best,
      Sarah B

  • Beautiful Post!! Where did you find that muffin tin? Is it non stick? Are you worried about the chemicals in nonstick cookware? Just curious and also can you make these muffins with regular flour?

    • Hi Amy,

      It so funny you asked that, since the batch I made after these I used liners for that very reason, ha! Yes, I’m very concerned about teflon or ANY non-stick cookware 🙂 I haven’t tried using regular flour since I don’t own any, but they would probably work! Let me know if you try.

      xo, Sarah B

  • Dear Sarah.
    Thank you for this great post. I am actually looking for a good mattress and it is a jungle. I live in Copenhagen so any suggestion for European brand? It would be a great help!

    Thank you

      • Hi Melissa,

        I love the bedding from Himla and Ferm Living. Etsy is another great place to look for organic bedding and linens. I hope that helps!

        Best,
        Sarah B

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