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The Nourished Festival, formerly The Gluten Free & Allergen Friendly Expo, relaunched this year with expanded offerings, exhibitors and new locations. The event is returning to Dallas Market Hall on September 7 and 8 for the ninth year and expects to exceed the 3000 attendees welcomed last year. The festival is traveling to nine other cities this year: San Diego, Atlanta, Sandy, Utah, Denver, Schaumburg, Illinois, Worcester, Massachusetts, Seattle, Secaucus, New Jersey, and San Mateo, California and expects to receive over 35,000 attendees.

To better serve individuals with food allergies, specialty diets and those interested in- holistic or healthy living, the Festival will be adding an array of exhibitors to grow with their expanding audience. In addition to the existing gluten-free and nut-free zones, paleo, keto and plant-based zones have been added, along with a variety of health and wellness practitioners. The festival will continue to provide attendees with new products, services and educational opportunities.

At this family-friendly event, attendees are able to sample food and health products, meet with companies and practitioners, learn about the most current food lifestyles, receive coupons and attend educational sessions with industry experts.

Jen Cafferty, founder and CEO of The Nourished Group, says, “For 12 years, attendees have enjoyed our gluten-free and allergen-friendly events. However, as the movement advances, we are finding that more attendees are looking for healthy living options beyond gluten-free. Our festivals will continue to meet the needs of our specialty diet consumers, but a greater emphasis on health and wellness will allow us to help more people. We want to be a marketplace where Dallas-Fort Worth wellness professionals can better connect with our Festival attendees seeking their services.”

The Festival is looking for new speakers and exhibitors in the Dallas-Forth Worth Metroplex, including those specializing in nutrition, integrative modalities and general health and wellness.

Natural Awakenings readers receive $5 off festival admission with code NATURAL5 at To inquire about the new exhibitor discount and speaking opportunities, email



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Buying a green, sustainable car or truck is a big decision toward seeking alternatives to environmentally destructive fossil fuels. For North Texans, vehicle Incentives from a variety of sources make the choice a little easier on the household budget.

There are federal tax credits of up to $7,500 for Plug-In Electric Drive Motor Vehicles; Texas Light-Duty Motor Vehicle Purchase or Lease Incentive Program rebates up to $2,500; Texas AirCheckTX Drive a Clean Machine Program vouchers of up to $3,500; and Oncor and Nissan LEAF incentives of $3,000, for a total possible savings of up to $16,500.

A plug-in electric drive motor vehicle tax credit is available for the purchase of a new qualified plug-in electric vehicle, based on each vehicle’s traction battery capacity and gross vehicle weight rating.

Light-Duty Motor Vehicle Purchase or Lease Incentive Program is administered through the Texas Commission of Environmental Quality, with rebates for new, light-duty vehicles powered by compressed natural gas or propane and electric drive or hydrogen fuel cell vehicles.

The AirCheckTexas Drive a Clean Machine Program is administered in the North Texas area by the North Central Texas Council of Governments. It’s program provides vouchers towards the purchase of a hybrid electric, battery electric or natural gas vehicle up to three model years old.

Oncor customers can also receive an extra $3,000 off of a new Nissan LEAF through a special limited-time offer available from Oncor and Nissan. Both residential and commercial customers can receive this incentive.

Tesla is partnering with businesses that serve customers that own a Tesla by subsidizing the cost of free Tesla charging stations and some universal charging stations to certain workplaces and other eligible locations, as well as employers with employees that currently own or are interested in owning a Tesla.

For more information, visit



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Hugs Café has been in the making for more than 15 years and began as the dream of founder and president Ruth Thompson. Her vision was to create a nonprofit bistro that would be operated primarily by adults with special needs. She found her passion working with them in Parker, Colorado, and that served as the foundation for Hugs Café in 2013.

Upon moving to Texas in 2004, Thompson combined her love of people and food by teaching cooking classes to adults with special needs at Market Street, in McKinney. For nearly 10 years, she taught two classes per week, constantly striving to help her students develop new skills, become more independent and enhance their personal self-worth. After retiring from teaching, Thompson searched for new ways to enhance the lives of adults with special needs, and has channeled her energy toward making Hugs Café a reality

Thompson says that when someone with special needs ages out of the school system at 21, most stay home with no purpose. The mission of Hugs Café is to provide training and employment for adults with special needs that she calls teammates. The restaurant employs 11 teammates and five mainstream employees, a full-time restaurant manager and a full-time kitchen manager. All teammates work part-time, and are the heart of the restaurant. They also use community volunteers on a daily basis that act as job coaches and work alongside their teammates, making sure they are doing their jobs correctly. At times, volunteers are used in the kitchen, too.

Since forming Hugs Café, Thompson has surrounded herself with individuals from a variety of backgrounds that share her drive for people and service. This group comes from all walks of life and has decades of professional experience in nearly many fields. The board of directors has made great strides to make Hugs Café a reality, and will continue to help make a positive and lasting impact on all of its employees and the greater DFW community.

Thompson also recently opened Hugs Greenhouse. This allows the mission to pivot as they search for additional ways to serve adults with special needs. “This is just one more chance for us to fulfill that mission,” says Thompson. The products grown and sold at Hugs Greenhouses include a variety of perennials and annuals that survive and thrive in North Texas. They focus on hand-grown, fresh plants.

Hugs café is located at 224 E. Virginia St., in McKinney. The greenhouse is located at 3054 County Rd. 205. For more information, call 469-301-6900 or visit



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Green Living & Design Expo convenes from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., March 23, at the Addison Conference and Theatre Centre to introduce the green living alternatives and solutions available in our local communities. This event was created for families wanting to build or design utilizing products, methods and services with sustainable living in mind.  

Applications are being taken for vendors, speakers and workshop facilitators. This is a great new opportunity to learn about green living and for green businesses to inform people about what’s available.

Admission is free. Location: 15650 Addison Rd., Addison. For inquiries and more information, call Jennifer Rae at 469-401-4777, email or visit



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Most relationships go south, not from lack of love, but from lack of understanding. It’s the lingering love that causes break-ups to hurt so much. The thing to understand is what keeps couples from understanding one another—what exactly sends relationships crashing into the rocks, and what keeps them alive and thriving. Also, what makes a relationship so good that even after years together, a couple is still rocking one another’s world in delightful and life-enhancing ways.

We all come into relationships with unconscious expectations that began forming when we were just toddlers. By age 3, most children have been observing their parents and coming to conclusions that will shape their relationships for the rest of their lives, unless they can see and reexamine those conclusions.

The 3-year-old looks at Mom, how she acts, how she treats her children and how she treats her husband, and concludes that this is what it looks like to be a woman, mother and wife. The child also looks at dad and does the same thing. Based on how he acts, how he treats his children and how he treats his wife, the child concludes that this is what it looks like to be a man, father and husband.

Then, as adults, we unconsciously bring those models into our life and relationships. They aren’t just models of how we should behave (or if we rejected the parental model, how we should never behave), they are also models of how we think our significant other should or should not behave. If our model doesn’t match their model, problems begin to brew.

Seldom do couples (or parents) realize that it’s these layers of conditioning that are driving behaviors and sending relationships into the rocks. It’s because of those old programs that we find ourselves behaving in ways we don’t understand or reacting negatively to things we don’t consciously think should upset us.

Happily, there are ways to prevent the past from sabotaging our future and to consciously build relationships that rock. Here are three:

  1. Explore the models we grew up with to discover the expectations that those models created. Awareness of what is driving a behavior is often enough to consciously alter it.
  2. Discover who we are authentically. Often, the authentic self is very different than the models and the stereotypes we have bought into. Through knowing our true self and that of our loved one, we can discover the core needs that drive behaviors and find ways to meet those needs.
  3. Build healthy boundaries around our true self and within the relationship, and give one another permission to say, “You’re in my space,” to prevent infringing on one another’s territory. Then honor and respect one another’s boundaries.

The key to fulfilling relationships begins with understanding. Only through understanding can we enhance one another’s life, and that’s what healthy relationships do.

 For more information, call 214-688-1412 or email



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When Nicole Gilbert and Marc Howell sought a nature-based preschool for their two youngest children that focused on creative learning through nature, plant-based foods and Spanish immersion, they couldn’t find one; so they took the leap and created their own. Pebble Pond Preschool, which opened in October in Fort Worth, helps children excel and grow while connecting them to nature, healthy eating and Spanish language studies.

Gilbert fondly remembers how her father made sure she got outside every day to hike and play, and he showed her animals and took her out foraging. Two environmentally themed cartoons also influenced Gilbert during her childhood—Captain Planet and the Planeteers, and The Lorax.

Gilbert went on to study at Clemson University, earning a bachelor’s degree in environmental and natural resources in 2007, and a master’s degree in forest resources in 2008. She worked for the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department’s Dinosaur Valley State Park until she and Howell opened Pebble Pond Preschool.

Howell, a vegan of 18 years, has a business making vegan popcorn for events. He had worked in appliance repair for nearly two decades, fixing the machines before they ended up in landfills and giving them new life. The couple combines their knowledge and environmental passions to make Pebble Pond Preschool a place where children ages 3 through 6 can play outside and get dirty while learning about nature.

Pebble Pond Preschool’s curriculum combines some aspects of the Reggio Emilia, Waldorf and Montessori education models. “In Waldorf, they encourage natural elements in the classroom, and they incorporate gardening and cooking,” Gilbert says. Waldorf classrooms have homelike atmospheres, and Pebble Pond Preschool emulates that in the1920s house where the school is located. There are mixed-age classrooms, a Montessori element, and teachers set out different activities and education materials made from natural elements.

Gilbert and Howell converted the property’s yard to an outdoor classroom with wildflowers, native plants and a bird feeder. Logs, boards, tires and blocks make up a loose parts area where kids can build things and dig with shovels. There’s a mud kitchen, and Gilbert tries to get the kids outside rain or shine. “That teaches them resilience and to just enjoy life, no matter the weather. If there’s a safety issue like lightening or it’s too cold, we stay in, but otherwise, the kids can see changes with the trees, or see worms on the sidewalk when it rains. They find something new every day.” The kids often eat outdoors and occasionally nap outside.

Most of the kids at Pebble Pond Preschool are not from Spanish-speaking homes, so Gilbert and the staff teach Spanish language by gradually working in Spanish words and phrases and make sure the children are understanding them through pointing to things and using hand and body cues.

Kids learn about natural foods through a weekly food theme, such as a carrot, through photos, touch, smell, taste and how to work it into different meals. There’s a small garden, and the kids participate in harvesting the produce.

Natural living is also included in the curriculum, so the kids learn about non-toxic cleaning, composting and recycling, which Gilbert says helps them develop positive, lifelong habits. “I know how important it is to be connected to nature from a young age,” Gilbert says. “For a couple of years, kids will have this experience and hopefully, this little seed we have planted will be with them for the rest of their lives.”


Pebble Pond Preschool is located at 3121 Forest Ave., in Fort Worth. For more information, call 817-395-1885 or visit

Sheila Julson is a freelance writer and contributor to Natural Awakenings magazines throughout the country.



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Recognizing and accepting stress is important to keeping the body in good health. Here are some tips to help you manage thoughts, feelings and beliefs.

Learn to meditate: The goal of meditation is no thought; a clearing of your mind to shut of your thoughts.

Stop thinking about the things you do not want: You create what you think about and believe in.

Believe in yourself. If you think you can or think you can’t; either way, you are right.

Practice gratitude: Feeling good in your mind helps you feel good in your body. The converse is also true. This is something only you can control.

Write down what you want to see: Read it aloud.  Having clarity about what you want and putting down on paper helps you be clear about it.

Imagine the body you would like to see: Seeing what you want in your mind helps you see it in the material world; just as you would design an object, build a house, make a dress, start a business, etc.

Remind yourself that physical discomfort comes from some uncomfortable emotion: Rather than spending time trying to figure out what the bad feeling is; remind yourself that your body already knows how to heal itself and let it go.

What the body actually does with the food or supplements we take is determined by our thoughts.

For more information, contact Dr. Maxine Thomas, M.D., at 903-450-9120 or visit



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Water: It is recommended that individuals drink half their body weight in ounces each day. thirty-seven percent of people mistake thirst for hunger because they are unaware that they are thirsty and not hungry. Reverse osmosis or purified water is recommended.

Oral health: A biological approach to dental care can optimize your health. Your body can affect your mouth and likewise your mouth can affect your body. Removing mercury filings and heavy metals from the mouth promotes higher immunity and organ function.

Food: Read the label to check for hidden sugars, canola oil, trans fats and GMOs. Adopt a Mediterranean way of eating, increasing fresh vegetables, healthy proteins, fats and limit carbohydrate consumption. Anti-inflammatory living is vital to optimizing nutrient status.

Movement: Exercise and deep breathing helps offset stress and increases endorphins, which decreases pain and boosts well-being.

Mindfulness: Prayer and meditation promote self -healing and harmony in the body.

Sleep: The body heals itself when you are asleep. It is the best supplement anyone can get. Studies show that people that sleep seven to nine hours each night live longer, healthier lives. It is recommended to stop using electronic devices such as cell phones, tablets and television) two to three hours before bed. The blue light emitted by these devices disrupts melatonin production.


For more information, contact Leanne Hutcherson, Naturopath, at 972-540-0726 or



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The 2018 ozone season ended on November 30, 2018, but the 10-county region designated by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) as moderate nonattainment for the 2008 eight-hour National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) for ozone (less than or equal to 75 parts per billion), did not reach attainment by the July 2018 deadline. Therefore, the region is being reclassified to serious nonattainment, and will now have until July 2021 to attain the standard. The EPA also designated Dallas-Fort Worth as marginal nonattainment under the 2015 eight-hour NAAQS with an attainment date of August 2021.

The North Central Texas Council of Governments (NCTCOG) has several air quality programs in place to improve the region’s air quality and move us into attainment for the pollutant ozone, and many focus on education, development, implementation and enforcement of emissions reduction strategies across the 10-county ozone nonattainment area.

Air North Texas, the region’s clean air public awareness campaign, implements air quality education and outreach efforts each year. In 2018, it hosted the ninth annual Clean Air Action Day on June 22, in which North Texans were asked to do at least one new thing to help improve air quality. More than 1,000 North Texans made commitments to improve air quality.

The agency also encourages businesses, governments and individuals to implement specific clean air strategies when air pollution is forecast to reach unhealthy levels. The Air North Texas campaign offers examples of easy things people can do to help improve air quality, such as carpooling, using mass transit, conserving electricity and more.

The Dallas-Fort Worth (DFW) Clean Cities Coalition works with local fleets to promote practices and decisions to reduce petroleum consumption and improve air quality. DFW was one of the first regions to be designated as part of the Department of Energy Clean Cities initiative in 1995.  The Coalition hosts several events each year, facilitates clean vehicle trainings, provides updates on available funding, has frequent stakeholder-focused meetings and an annual meeting.

The AirCheckTexas Drive a Clean Machine Program provides financial assistance to registered vehicle owners to repair or replace vehicles that have failed the state emissions test. The program is offered to residents in nine of the 10 nonattainment counties. Since 2003, the AirCheckTexas program has replaced 36,561 vehicles and repaired 35,003 vehicles.

Engine Off North Texas is a regional initiative dedicated to reducing the impacts associated with the idling of vehicles. Efforts are focused on expanding the adoption of anti-idling ordinances and policies, researching new technologies and promoting idle-reduction campaigns across the region. To date, 28 local governments have adopted the state regulation that limits idling of heavy-duty gasoline and diesel vehicles to five minutes. To further improve effectiveness of this regulation amongst other idle reduction efforts, NCTCOG promotes enforcement measures to local governments and provides outreach materials and technical assistance to cities, counties and fleets that put these idle reduction efforts in place.

The Electric Vehicles North Texas (EVNT) program seeks to increase awareness of the availability and feasibility of EVs in the DFW area and ensure availability of resources needed to support their widespread adoption through collaboration with local governments, businesses and other interested parties. The region has more than 300 locations providing public charging infrastructure. More than 6,700 EVs are registered in NCTCOG counties as of December 2018, accounting for almost 40 percent of all EVs in the state. As the number of EVs in the region increases, EVNT looks for ways to overcome barriers to the adoption and use of this clean vehicle technology. In September, National Drive Electric Week was held at Grapevine Mills Mall and set a North Texas record for the most electric vehicles in one location. 169 electric vehicles and 627 registered attendees came to show their support for the second largest Drive Electric Week event in the nation.

North Texas is growing, with an expected population of 10.7 million by 2040, an increase of 3 million new residents over the next 20 years. More residents mean more homes, and an increased need for water, energy and transportation infrastructure. Conserve North Texas is a regional clearinghouse of resources, tools and case studies related to water, energy and transportation efficiency topics.  It is hoped that the general public and private industry, along with the public sector will also find these resources valuable.

For information on these programs and many of the other initiatives being implemented at NCTCOG, visit



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At the Big D Climb, the biggest in North Texas, participants race up 70 stories of stairs at Bank of America Plaza, in Downtown Dallas, to raise money for blood cancer research. January 26 will mark the event's 11th year and the goal is to sell out the climb and raise more than $350,000 for The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. More than 1,000 raced last year to raise close to $300,000.  The Opening ceremony begins at 7:30am at the Bank of America Tower in downtown Dallas.

Those that don't want to try it alone can form a team and challenge friends, family and co-workers to a race you to the top by using the “create a team" link on the registration page. Racers must be at least 7 years old to participate. For safety reason, children are not able to be carried.

Location: 901 Main St., Dallas. For details, visit



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