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/