Good Posture for Pregnancy: The Smart Way to Sit and Stand When You’re Expecting

Suzy Clarkson has devised a practical guide to assist woman through their pregnancies at a later age. Clarkson had her first child at 39, and her second at 45. Her book is designed to help women over the age of 35 with the unique challenges of pregnancy at a later age. The key to Clarkson’s approach is to combine fitness with your pregnancy.

As Dr. Dereck Souter says in his introduction, “Pregnancy is an ideal time for a woman to start reviewing her lifestyle and diet to ensure not only a good pass in the test of pregnancy is achieved, but also that the basis of a healthy lifestyle is established.

The books provides a realistic, balanced exercise program for pregnancy, acknowledging that pregnancy can have a significant effect on energy levels and there will be both good and bad days. 


Core stability and posture are inextricably linked. A strong, stable core enhances good posture. During pregnancy, how you hold yourself will naturally adjust to accommodate your changing shape and weight as your uterus and baby grow.

The relaxing and loosening effect of pregnancy hormones on your ligaments and joints also makes you more susceptible to sagging, poor posture. What was a small lower back curve, can become exaggerated as your tummy extends forwards. This can put extra strain on your already stretched abdominals and more stress on your spine.

Heavier, fuller breasts can cause you to round your shoulders and slump forwards, which in terms forces your chin to jut forward, placing extra stress down the back of your neck (cervical spine). Due to your increasing weight, you will probably stand with your feet apart for balance, and that in itself can apply different stresses to the hips and lower back. Core strengthening exercises will help minmize and alleviate the postural strain and stresses on your pregnant body.

Your spine has four curves, three moveable, one fixed. Beginning at the top, the concave curve of the neck moving down tho the slightly convex curve of the upper back, then to the concave curve of the lower back, and finally the fixed convex curve of the triangular bone that forms the rear wall of the pelvis–the sacrum. These curves are essential to the spine begin able to function well.

Good posture does not attempt to eliminate the curves; instead, it should eliminate any exaggeration. and aim for balance between them. Erect upright posture improves your health and wellbeing, your muscles function better, you are able to breathe deeper and your self-esteem will be boosted by a confident stance.

Be ware of how you stand, walk, sit and lift during pregnancy. A little care and self-correction in order to maintain good posture can really help you avoid discomfort. Not many of us have perfect posture to begin with, so if you have been out of alignment for years, then correcting yourself is going to initially feel weird. Correcting little and often, is the key,so every time you pass a mirror do a quick “self check and restack.”

Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

You can improve your chances of having a comfortable pregnancy by paying attention to your posture while sitting and standing. Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons


Working down the body from your head to the feet, run through this postural alignment for good standing posture.

Chin tucked to that your eyes are looking forward, slid your chin back towards your spine (retraction), shoulders down and back, tuck your tailbone slightly under, feet hip distance apart, knees soft and not locked into extension. Finally, lengthen through your mid-section by extending the gap between your ribs and hips.

Try imagining a plumb line attached to the very apex of your skull and gently pulling you up a few centimeters. It is often not until you go through this checklist and restack your body that you realize how slumped you were. The next time you are standing in a queue at the supermarket or petrol station—stop, check and restack.


You may think that slouching on a couch is resting your body, but that is not the case when it comes to your lower back. Sloppy sitting puts a lot of pressure on the discs in your back; the spongy bits between the bony vertebrae. Lying applies the least amount of disc pressure; when standing the pressure is four times greater than in lying, but when sitting it is a whopping 16 times higher. That is why when you have a sore back, sitting is one of the worst positions to be in for any length of time, as any increased disc pressure can exacerbate discomfort.

However, sitting is something we do a lot every day and that’s not going to change, so here’s how to sit smart. Your anchor points are your sit bones (ischial tuberosities). Beware of sitting evenly on your sit bones, as the process of elongating and stacking your spine correctly starts right from the sit bones and continues all the way up to the top of your neck.

Be aware of maintaining the small natural curve in your lower back. Try using a small pillow, lumbar roll or rolled-up towel to help you maintain that natural lower back curve, and make sure you shuffle your butt to the back of the seat.

Then, “sit tall,” by lifting your rib cage away from your pelvis, creating a sense of elongation in your mid region. Finally, roll your shoulders back and won. Long car trips or plane flights can be particularly troublesome for backs, so if you are traveling for any length of time, use a lower back arch support as suggested above.


Many older women spend months, if not years, trying for motherhood, then endure an anxious pregnancy wondering if they are eating and exercising properly. Fitness expert Suzy Clarkson has been there. Her first pregnancy at the age of 38 was relatively trouble-free, but trying to get pregnant again a few years later was very different. Following fertility treatment, she finally gave birth to her second child at the age of 45.

Qualified in physiotherapy, Suzy has now devised a practical guide to assist older women through their pregnancies, using her own experiences of motherhood to support her text. This easy-to-follow fitness program will take you through each trimester, showing suitable exercises and suggesting how to develop healthy habits to achieve a safe outcome, a successful childbirth and a speedy recovery afterwards. The book is fully illustrated with step-by-step photographs showing the exercises in detail. The information she provides is based on the latest research, and is endorsed by leading specialists in obstetrics and fertility.

But the book is more than its exercises. Suzy is a ‘real mum’ who offers encouragement and a compassionate helping hand to all older mothers. Fit for Birth and Beyond is the guide you can trust and use with confidence.


Are You Ready to Cleanse? Here’s The Tough Truth About the Foods That Will Have to Go

Do you use coffee in the morning? Enjoy a cocktail to relax after work? Are you also interested in a four-day green cleanse to rid your body of toxins and get back on the right track?

If the answers to all three of these questions is yes, then we have some sobering news for you. If you want to successfully complete a four-day greens cleanse, then you are going to have to go without caffeine, alcohol, and a few other tempting food favorites for a few days.

That’s the bad news, But as author Shauna Martin explains in her new book, Daily Greens 4-Day Cleanse, theropod news is that the temporary denial is well worth the long-term beneficial effects of allowing your body to rid itself of toxins and rehydrate.

Who knows? Maybe when you’re done with the cleanse, you won’t be craving as many of the items in the no-go zone, and you’ll feel all the better for it. Here is more about what is not allowed during a cleanse, from Martin’s book:


In order to successfully complete a Four-Day Greens Cleanse, you will have to go without a cup of coffee in the morning. Image by Julius Schorzman courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

Foods to Eliminate for Your 4-Day Cleanse

During your cleanse, you will need to eliminate several items from your diet. Some of these will be tough, but do make the effort. You’ll be happy you did.

Coffee has several side effects that are not conducive to cleansing and optimal “gut” health. First, it causes your stomach to produce large amounts of hydrochloric acid. Then it causes a “laxative effect” by prematurely dumping food and nutrients from your stomach into your intestines before they have had a chance to properly digest. When the acidic stomach contents are dumped into the small intestine, this results in injury or inflammation in the very place that is supposed to be absorbing most of your nutrients. Finally, caffeine is a diuretic causing dehydration, which is counter-productive to your cleanse goal of fully hydrating and cleansing your body.

As you’ve probably suspected, alcohol is not conducive to cleansing. It is dehydrating, spikes blood sugar levels, causes inflammation, and adds “empty” calories that are devoid of nutrients. Drinking alcohol in any form, including wine, is simply not productive during a cleanse.

Refined and Packaged Foods

Refined and packaged foods are not usually what I consider “real food,” as they contain countless preservatives and added mystery ingredients. As a rule, if a package contains any ingredients that I don’t recognize or can’t pronounce, I will not buy it.

All these refined and packaged foods are at the heart of the current food and health crisis we have in America, since they lack any real nutrients and often contain potentially harmful ingredients used to preserve and add shelf life. Some of these packaged foods are “fortified” with artificial and chemically based nutrients like iron, calcium, and vitamins, but these are a poor substitute for the nutrients that naturally occur in real food.

During your 4-Day cleanse, you will enjoy the full benefits of a plant-based diet, minus these artificial additives, and you will see a dramatic difference in your mood and energy level.

Animal Products (including dairy)

Animal protein takes hours to digest and is not conducive to cleansing. It is important to eat foods that digest rapidly to give your intestines a break. Note that animal protein also usually contains toxins from pesticides that are used in the animals’ food supply, as well as hormones and antibiotics used to optimize production of animal protein. This places an even greater burden on the body to get rid of the animal toxic waste.

Grain Products
While cooked whole grains are an important part of a long-term healthy diet, they also take a long time to digest, and for some people, the gluten in many of these (wheat, rye, barley) causes inflammation in the intestines. One of the goals for your 4-Day Cleanse is to reduce inflammation and give your intestines a rest, so it is best to eliminate cooked grains while cleansing.

DailyGreens4DayCleanseAre you craving junk foods? Feel sluggish and tired all the time? Fueling yourself on caffeine and sugar on a daily basis? Then it’s time reset your mind and body with the Daily Greens 4-Day Cleanse.

Jump start your body and give yourself a “spring cleaning” during the week so you’re refreshed and looking amazing for the weekend. The book features four key cleanses: one for each season of the year (Spring, Summer, Fall, and New Year). The vegetables and fruits in each cleanse are selected to coincide with fresh, delicious seasonal produce so that you can juice right in your own home. Try the 4-day cleanse or if it’s right for your lifestyle, try the 7- or 10-day cleanse.

The best part? You don’t have to eliminate food on the Daily Greens cleanse. Founder Shauna Martin recommends a raw diet while you juice, so you’re not just limited to just liquid, and you’ll still be able to refresh, rejuvenate, and reset as you would with other cleanses. So you get the same benefits of a cleanse without starving yourself! No more cleanse headaches or irritability, and you’ll feel the results almost instantly.

You can make these yummy green recipes right in your own kitchen, anytime you want. Daily Greens juices contain easy to follow recipes that include up to 6 pounds of raw produce cold-pressed into each bottle. Each juice is the equivalent of 9 servings of fresh vegetables and fruits. They are naturally low-calorie because less than 10% fruit is used so you don’t spike sugar levels. No water, sugar, or preservatives are added. The juices are naturally vegan, naturally gluten-free, naturally dairy- and soy-free, non-GMO project certified, and absolutely delicious.

At the age of 33, Shauna R. Martin was diagnosed with breast cancer. With a very young family to care for, Shauna had an extremely difficult time recovering from multiple surgeries and chemotherapy. The effect on her body was toxic, and she began eating raw fruits and vegetables and drinking a green juice every single day to promote her health and well-being. Eight years later, Shauna is still cancer-free, and she credits her recovery from breast cancer, in part, to her current healthy lifestyle which includes a regiment of drinking green juice every day. Shauna started Pink Ribbon Cowgirls for young cancer survivors, and a portion of Daily Greens sales are set aside to grant funding to groups that support young women with cancer. She started her company, Daily Greens, in 2012, and her juice line can be found in Whole Foods, Natural Grocers, and health food stores all across the country.


Try This Family Activity: Climbing Indoors

If the cold temperatures and bad weather have you and your family figuratively climbing the walls this winter, then maybe it is time to get your family literally climbing some walls!

As parents Tim and Kerry Meek explain in their fun new book, 100 Family Adventures, rock climbing can provide families with a fun physical and mental challenge. When done safely and under the guidance of experts, rock climbing can also be an ideal place to test your limits and push past your fear of heights.

Here’s what Tim and Kerry say about indoor climbing in their book:


You can never be too young or too old to try indoor climbing. If climbing to heights that make you feel woozy and light headed (as if you are going to expire) are not your thin, than having a go at a climbing wall will push you out of your comfort zone, which can’t be a bad thing, can it?


Climbing a boulder at an indoor climbing facility in Virginia. Photo by Jarek Tuszynski, courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

Most youngsters won’t think twice about putting on a safety harness and scrabbling up a wall, placing their trust in three things: a harness (around their waist or body), a rope (fixed to their harness), and a belayer (the preson attached to the other end of the rope, stood on the ground below the climber).

Some children and adults, however, may need a little gentle coaxing, and if this is the case, they should not be rushed. Let worried climbers take their time to build up confidence in themselves and the whole experience. A band initial experience might put them off climbing for good, so encouragement and support the the watchwords.

Many climbing centers offer taster days, party packages and formal courses, as well as membership and equipment hire; they really do cater to all ages and abilities. Using a recognized provider gives you peace of mind that the equipment and walls are regularly inspected and maintained and are therefore safe and reliable. They are also accustomed to first-time or timid climbers and have ways of encouraging most people on to the wall.

Bouldering is another consideration for wannabe climbers or those families looking for an indoor exercise or challenge. It doesn’t involve ropes, so the aim is not to go as high as you can, but to compete graded routes, emphasizing technique and efficiency. Incidentally, bouldering is popular within the climbing community and competitions are regularly held for competitive types.

Look up your local climbing center for information on how to get started or to find out when the next bouldering competition is being held.


The highest climbing wall in the world is 37 meters/40 yards high.

100FamilyAdventuresChildhood obesity is increasing year on year. One of the reasons for this is inactivity. Children spend less time outside and more time in front of screens (computers, phones, games, television). Happiness and well-being levels in children are on the decline too. Physical activity causes the release of ‘feel good’ endorphins into the body. 100 Family Adventures provides parents with a valuable resource bank of tried and tested outdoor activities for them to enjoy with their children, wherever they live. Particularly inspiring for people who want to get started, but don’t know how, the book will help all family members foster a positive mindset that sees challenges as opportunities to rise to; and family time outdoors as great fun and highly rewarding.

Tim and Kerry Meek, teachers from Nottingham, England, are just regular parents striving to bring up their two daughters, Amy (11) and Ella (9), as best they can. Their approach to parenting is one full of love and care, but one that is also deliberately punctuated with managed risk and age-appropriate challenge. This means slightly less cotton wool than the norm is used to wrap up their children, and opportunities to explore, discover and enjoy adventure and outdoor quality family time are sought and seized whenever possible. Their mantra “Adventure is out there; you just have to go and find it.” is a quote that Amy expressed when she was 7 years old. It remains at the core of everything they do as a family.


How Well Do You Know Your Teas? Take This Quiz and Find Out

If you are living in the northern United States right now, you have probably had your fill of cold weather, ice and snow. Yes, it’s been pretty tough outside. But one great way to warm up after spending some time shoveling or walking in the cold is to have a cup of hot tea.

But when the kettle is on the boil and it’s time to reach into the cabinet for a tea bag, what type of tea do you choose? How much do you know about the different types of tea? About their tastes, origins and health benefits?

To find out more, take our short pop quiz, then find the answers  and more great tea-related information in this excerpt from Colleen Patrick Goundreau’s book, “Color Me Vegan.”

1. True or false?

All tea comes from the same plant. The only difference is in the way the leaves are processed after harvesting.

2. What type of tea presents the most natural form of tea processed for consumption?

A.) White Tea
B.) Green tea
C.) Black tea
D.) Oolong tea

3. What type of oolong tea tends to have the darker roast and fruitier nature?

A.) Chinese oolong tea
B.) Taiwanese oolong tea

4. What type of tea generally has the highest caffeine content?

A.) Green tea
B.) Black tea
C.) Oolong tea
D.) All teas have the same caffeine content

5. True or false?

Tea and tisane are interchangeable terms for the same drink?

(see answers below)


[Answers: 1.) True, 2.) A, White Tea 3.) Chinese oolong 4.) C, Black tea] 5.) False

More on Tea from “Color Me Vegan”

Evidence about tea’s healthful properties is strong. Because the first people to study the relationship between tea and health were the Chinese and Japanese, they focused on the type of tea that they drink: green. Green tea indeed deserves its lofty reputation, but evidence is mounting that black and other color teas are just as healthful.

The thing to know about the different types of tea is that they call come from the same plant, the Camellia sinensis, an evergreen shrub or small tree indigenous to China but also grown in other parts of the world, including South America, Indonesia, New Zealand and Australia.

The difference in teas just has to do with what they do to the leaves.


White tea represents the most natural form of teas processed for consumption. Steamed instead of air-dried to stop the oxidation process (which naturally begins occurring once the leaves are picked), white teas are plucked from the downy premature leaves of the white tea varietal and also include some buds. Picked just before the buds have opened, the tea takes its name from the silver fuzz that still covers the buds. Based on Western medical findings, white teas are reputed to be higher in antioxidants than green teas, and they’re extremely low in caffeine.


The next grade is green tea. Green teas have been pan -ired or steamed to retain their color and nutrients, and indeed, green teas have been found to be rich in antioxidants, vitamins and nutrients. Reputed to increase concentration and prevent heart disease, osteoporosis and many types of cancer, green tea can taste sweet, nutty, buttery, smoky, marshy or floral, depending on the location and time of year the tea was picked.

"P1080290". Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons -

Oolong tea. Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.


Next you’ve got your oolong teas, which have been semi-oxidized and roasted, containing medium levels of caffeine. Clay teapots—called yixing (ee-SHING) teapots—and other accoutrements were developed by the Chinese and Taiwanese especially for these aromatic and complex teas. Chinese oolongs generally tend to have a darker roast and fruitier nature than Taiwanese oolongs, which are generally greener, with a more floral aroma.


Black teas are fully oxidized through an intense rolling or tearing process. They’re higher in caffeine content than greens and whites, but still moderate compared to coffee. Black teas are called red teas in China because the tea, when brewed, has red colored liquid. Black teas were not widely produced in China until the early 19th century.


I would be negligent if I didn’t mention a special type of tea you may not have heard of. It’s called pu-erh (poo-AIR). Pu-erh teas are aged for a number of years under humid conditions. They have an early aroma and a full-bodied flavor, increasing as they age. Pu-erhs come in many forms: loose leaf, compressed into any number of sizes, aged in baskets, bamboo stalks, aged in citrus rinds, and many other forms. Many Chinese drink this tea daily, multiple times a day, to reduce cholesterol levels, decrease blood pressure, and aid digestion.


We tend to call anything “tea” that is made from leaves and steeped in a bag.Technically, however, if it doesn’t come from the Camellia sinensis plant, it’s not “tea.” In other words, if dried flowers, herbs, seeds or roots (peppermint, camomile, rooibos, for instance) are infused in water, it’s what’s called a “tisane” and not a “tea.”

Color Me VeganEat by color for more flavorful meals and extraordinary health!

In Color Me Vegan, author and vegan extraordinaire Colleen Patrick-Goudreau brings an edible rainbow of plant-based cuisine to your kitchen table with 150 flavorful recipes designed to boost your health and perk up your palate.

With color as the guiding principle behind each section, Colleen shows vegetarians, vegans, and everyone in between exactly how phytonutrients—the most powerful, pigmented antioxidants on earth, found in everything from select fruits and vegetables, to grains, legumes, nuts, and seeds—can be expertly incorporated into your meals for the greatest nutritional punch.

From the “Color Me Blue” chapter, for example, you’ll be treated to recipes such as:

—Radicchio Fennel Salad with Caper Dressing

—Chilled Blueberry Mango Soup

—Lavender-Roasted Purple Onions

—Eggplant with Dengaku (Sweet Miso) Sauce

—Purple Plum Pie with Crumble Topping

From sensational starters and salads, to filling mains and sides, to crave-worthy desserts—in every color—each recipe is not just a feast for your stomach, but a feast for your eyes as well! Check out more about the book at

Colloidal oatmeal is a more finely ground version of this traditional flake-style oatmeal.

Are You Having Skin Woes This Winter? Here’s What Might Be Causing Them

The winter is always a trying time for skin. Between the cold temperatures outside and the dry heat inside, it sometimes seems like a full time job to keep ahead of dry, itchy skin.

If you’re looking for some fast-acting, all natural skin relief, a colloidal oatmeal bath may be just the thing for you. Colloidal oatmeal is a more finely ground version of the flake-style oatmeal that you have in your breakfast cereal. When it is ground down to this finer state, the oatmeal stays suspended in water, providing a soothing, coating solution for your skin.

Here is some more information about the causes of skin irritation, followed by instructions on how to prepare your own colloidal oatmeal bath, from “The Little Book of Home Remedies; Beauty and Health.

What Irritates the Skin

The skin is the body’s largest organ. A number of things can trigger local skin inflammation, or dermatitis, in sensitive people.

In contact dermatitis, the offending agents come into direct contact with the skin. Examples include poison ivy, nickel jewelry, sheep’s lanolin, topical antibiotics, and ingredients in detergents and body-care products. Radiation administered to cancer patients can also cause dermatitis.

Some people have eczema, also called atopic dermatitis, a condition that tends to run in families, along with hay fever and asthma. Affected patches of skin are red, itchy, scaly, and thickened, and in some cases oozing and crusty. Allergens that provoke the inflammation may be difficult or impossible to identify.

Hives is another skin condition often caused by an allergic reaction. Red, raised itchy patches of skin appear suddenly and may disappear as quickly as they came. Caused by a release of histamine in response to an allergen, hives can be triggered by just about anything—food, sun, dust mites, stress, medication, and more.

Treatment for any of these conditions depends upon the underlying cause. If your watch’s nickel backing left a red, crusty patch on your wrist, you’ll need to replace [the watch]. If you’re allergic to the antibiotic you’re taking, you may need to switch medications and remember to never take that antibiotic again (as the reaction could be more severe next time around).

If you’re allergic to bee venom and are stung, you’ll need an epinephrine injection. If you are prone to hives, a simple antihistamine can often calm the allergic reaction.

If you have eczema, your doctor will probably advise switching to hypoallergenic personal care products and laundry detergent, keeping your skin hydrated, and prescription anti-inflammatory creams for flare-ups.

Colloidal oatmeal is a more finely ground version of this traditional flake-style oatmeal.

Colloidal oatmeal is a more finely ground version of this traditional flake-style oatmeal that stays suspended in water. Photo by Bill Ebbesen courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

Colloidal Oatmeal Bath

2 to 3 cups (160 to 240 g) regular or colloidal oats


If using regular oats, pour them into a food processor, coffee grinder, or blender and blend to a powder. This turns them into colloidal oats. Pour the oats into warm, running bathwater. Disperse oats with your hand. (Alternatively, pour the oats into a sock, bag, or bandana to contain the particles and help with cleanup and place the sock in the bathwater.) Climb in and soak for at least 15 minutes. (Avoid using soap, which only dries and further irritates the skin.) After leaving the bath, pat your skin dry with a clean towel.

YIELD: 1 application

HOW IT WORKS: Oats have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory activity. Applied topically, oats moisturize the skin and decrease itching. The gooeyness you feel when you squeeze the sock is caused by the complex carbohydrates in the oats.

Note: You can make a large batch of colloidal oats and store in a tightly sealed jar or tin in a cool, dry place.

LittleBookHomeRemediesBeautyHealthIn this giftable mini booklet of The Little Book of Home Remedies, Beauty and Health, Barbara H. Seeber and Barbara Brownell Grogan join Dr. Linda White to draw on years of training in the area of natural healing to help you treat aches and pains and manageable ailments naturally. This handy guide provides remedies and advice for dry skin, acne, dandruff and more.

Linda B. White, M.D., holds B.S and M.S degrees from Stanford University and an M.D. from the University of California, San Diego. She is the co-author of The Herbal Drugstore and Kids, Herbs, and Health. She served as a medical advisor and contributor to The National Geographic Guide to Medicinal Herbs. Since 2004, Dr. White has been on faculty at Metropolitan State, Denver, in the Integrative Therapeutic Practices Program in the Health Professions Department.

National Geographic editor and award-winning feature writer Barbara H. Seeber is a 30-year veteran of the publishing world. As an editor for National Geographic Books, she helped launch a number of titles in National Geographic’s line of health books.

Barbara Brownell Grogan, former editor in chief at National Geographic Books, is also a graduate of the Institute for Integrative Nutrition, in New York City. At National Geographic she grew the health line of publications, including Desk Reference to Nature’s Medicine, Body: The Complete Human, Brainworks, and Guide to Medicinal Herbs, and has worked with health and well-being experts including Joe and Terry Graedon, of The People’s Pharmacy, among others.

At-Home Family Activity: Reveal Invisible Messages Using Spy Juice! (Plus, $2.99 ebook deal!)

Sometimes you just want to be a cool parent. Well, we’ve got a great activity from Liz Lee Heinecke’s book, Kitchen Science Lab for Kids that is a great way to bond with your family with fun activities that teach a lot of important science basics, too.

TODAY ONLY:  For an amazing $2.99 on Amazon Kindle, you can take this amazing book with you anywhere! Get it here!


Spy Juice

Excerpted from Kitchen Science Lab for Kids by Liz Heinecke

spy juice1_ kitchen science lab for kids by liz heinecke



  • 2 cups (200 grams) whole fresh cranberries
  • Knife
  • Medium-size lidded pot
  • 3 1/3 cups (710 ml) water, plus more for step 7, if needed
  • Sieve or colander
  • Casserole dish or baking pan large enough to hold a sheet of paper
  • Baking soda
  • 1/3 cup (80 ml) warm water
  • All-purpose printer paper
  • Scissors
  • Cotton swabs, paintbrushes, or cake-pop sticks
  • Lemon juice (optional)


Safety Tips and Hints

Boiling the berries should be done by an adult. Keep the lid on the pot because the air pockets that make cranberries float can also make them explode. Kids can take over once the juice is cool.

You may have to try more than one kind of paper. There are instructions for testing your paper in the protocol.

A cake-pop stick or a cotton swab with the ends cut off make the best pens to use with the “invisible ink” in this experiment.


spy juice_ kitchen science lab for kids by liz heineckeStep 1: Cut a cranberry in half and observe the air pockets that make it float. 

Step 2: Boil the cranberries in 3 cups (710 ml) of the water for 15 to 20 minutes, covered. Listen for popping sounds as the air in the cranberries heats up and they explode. spy juice3_ kitchen science lab for kids by liz heinecke

Step 3: To collect the concentrated cranberry juice, crush the cooked berries and push the liquid through a sieve or colander into a casserole dish or pan that is big enough to hold a piece of paper.

Step 4: Allow the juice to cool. If your cranberry juice seems thick and syrupy, add a little water so that it’s thin enough to soak into paper!

Step 5: Test the paper you want to use by cutting a small piece and soaking it in the cranberry juice. If it stays pink, it will work, but if it turns blue or gray immediately, try some other paper.

Step 6: Make invisible ink by adding a few teaspoons (about 9 g) of baking soda to 1/3 cup (80 ml) of warm water and stir well. Don’t worry if you can still see some baking soda. You can also write messages with lemon juice.spy juice4_ kitchen science lab for kids by liz heinecke

Step 7: With a pen made from cotton swab, paintbrush, or cake-pop stick, use the baking soda solution and/or lemon juice as ink to write a message on your paper. It may take a little practice. Let your message air dry, or speed things up with a blow dryer.

Step 8: To reveal your message, place your paper in the cranberry juice and see what happens! spy juice5_ kitchen science lab for kids by liz heinecke



The Science Behind the Fun

Cranberries contain pigments called anthocyanins (an-tho-SY-a-nins) that give them their bright color. In nature, these pigments attract birds and other animals to fruit.

These pigments, called flavanoids, change color when they come in contact with acids and bases. Cranberry juice is very acidic, and the pigment is pink in acids, but when you add it to a base, it turns purple or blue.

Baking soda is a base, so your baking soda message will turn blue when it comes into contact with the pigments in the cranberry juice. Eventually, when enough cranberry juice soaks into the paper, it will dilute the baking soda, turning the pigment back to red and your message will disappear!

There are over three hundred kinds of anthocyanins, which are found in many fruits and vegetables. Scientists believe they may have many health benefits.


Creative Enrichment

What other natural acid/base indicators could you use to do this experiment? What else could you use as ink?

– – – –


KitchenLabScienceforKidsAt-home science provides an environment for freedom, creativity and invention that is not always possible in a school setting. In your own kitchen, it’s simple, inexpensive, and fun to whip up a number of amazing science experiments using everyday ingredients. Science can be as easy as baking. Hands-On Family: Kitchen Science Lab for Kids offers 52 fun science activities for families to do together. The experiments can be used as individual projects, for parties, or as educational activities groups. Kitchen Science Lab for Kids will tempt families to cook up some physics, chemistry and biology in their own kitchens and back yards. Many of the experiments are safe enough for toddlers and exciting enough for older kids, so families can discover the joy of science together.

Liz Heinecke has loved science since she was old enough to inspect her first butterfly.

After working in molecular biology research for ten years and getting her master’s degree, she left the lab to kick off a new chapter in her life as a stay-at-home mom. Soon she found herself sharing her love of science with her three kids as they grew, journaling their science adventures on her KitchenPantryScientist website.

Her desire to spread her enthusiasm for science to others soon led to a regular segment on her local NBC affiliate, an opportunity to serve as an Earth Ambassador for NASA, and the creation of an iPhone app, with the goal of making it simple for parents to do science with kids of all ages, and for kids to experiment safely on their own.

You can find her at home in Minnesota, wrangling her kids, writing for her website, updating the KidScience app, teaching microbiology to nursing students, singing, playing banjo, painting, running, and doing almost anything else to avoid housework.

Liz graduated from Luther College and received her master’s degree in bacteriology from the University of Wisconsin, Madison.


How to Warm Up for Weight Training

If you haven’t been to the gym in a while, or if you go to the gym regularly and find yourself pressed for time before a workout, remember this advice from Sean Lerwill; “If you haven’t got time to warm up, then you haven’t got time to train.”

This might seem like common sense, but you’d be surprised by how tempting it is to cut corners and skip out on warming up. Trust us, the time you’ll lose recovering from an easily preventable injury is far longer than the time you’ll spend getting your body ready to work out.

Lerwill, a former fitness trainer for British Royal Marines, is the author of the new book, “Body Transformation Manual.” In this excerpt, he details his strategy for properly warming up before hitting the weights.

"Baench practice" by jasonandkehly - jasonandkehly. Licensed under CC BY 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons -

Before you start to work at your training weight in an exercise like the bench press, it is important to warm up with a few rounds of lesser weight in order to loosen up your muscles and prevent injury. Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

Why Warm Up?

It’s imperative that you spend a few minutes of each session warming up. Besides the obvious reason that it can help you avoid injury, the warm up has many other benefits.

  • It prepares the body for the session to come
  • It thoroughly warms the muscles, ligaments and tendons
  • It increases the core temperature of the body
  • It aids mental focus and prepares the mind for the session to come

How Long Should You Warm Up For?

There’s no real set time for warm up; its length varies depending on its aim, the exercises ahead, the time of day, activity prior to the warm-up and how you’re feeling. You may need a long warm-up to get in the right frame of mind, or you might be raring to go.

Warming Up Before Weight Training

  1. Perform some form of pulse raiser, like a jog, cycle or row. I favor rowing, as it exercises the arms as well as the legs
  2. Perform some mobilization around the joints to be exercised. This can either be very lightweight versions of the exercises to come, or movements similar to them. For example, if legs are about to be trained, bodyweight squats would be a good mobilizer. If the chest is about to be exercised, a few press-up movements in the air before a few slow press-ups themselves would be a good idea. Other useful mobilizers for the upper body include various swim stroke arm movements.
  3. Perform light versions of the exercises to come, slowly building up the weight to the working weight. A good example would be 4-8 reps at 30% [of the]working weight, 4-8 reps at 50% working weight, 4-8 reps at 70% working weight, and 4-8 reps at 80% working weight. Take a little rest between these, but not too much.
  4. Perform the session as outlined.
  5. When you start a new muscle group, ensure you perform step 3 as outlined above for that movement.



Body Transformations are the most sought-after type of training in the fitness world at present. It is now understood by the leading magazines, gym chains and industry as a whole, that training for a marathon, getting into swimming or general exercise (like squash) will not give people the bikini body or rippling six pack they would like.

Sean Lerwill was the main author for the Haynes Royal Marines Fitness Manual. He has since left the Marines and is currently working as a fitness trainer. He has written numerous fitness articles for magazines and websites, including The Independent, Men’s Fitness and Men’s Health.