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Health, Home, and Happiness: June 2009

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Nourishing Breakfast

Whole wheat toast, scrambled eggs with cheddar cheese, hollandaise sauce (Joy of Cooking Blender Hollandaise Sauce), turkey sausage
These are our nice orange egg yolks. I was skeptical of what was labeled 'free range' but barely more than the price of conventional eggs. The carton was the same kind you get from Walmart, with the words 'Free Range' written in ball point pen in one corner. When I got home I was surprised, these sure look like free range eggs. So I'll be buying them more often now!



Lactofermented Pickles

This was what I was getting to when I was doing the yogurt and whey. I wanted real lactofermented pickles! They're very easy once you have everything you need.

All these recipes, the pickles, the cream cheese, the yogurt are from Nourishing Traditions, which if you're interested in this stuff you really need to buy. It's an awesome reference.

I finally got by the health food store to buy real moist light grey sea salt this weekend. We keep it in a jar.
Salt and dill for the pickles. A tablespoon of salt, 2 tablespoons of dill, 2 tablespoons of whey
Cucumbers cut into spears. They're not specific pickling cucumbers, they're the only organic cucumbers that Walmart had. And whey in the background from the still-dripping cream cheese.
All mixed up with filtered water.
We want a tight seal so the fermentation can be done anaerobically (without air). The white plastic lids don't hold tight enough, I don't think. And allow to rest for 4 days before transferring to the fridge.

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Monday, June 29, 2009

Cream Cheese and Whey from Yogurt

Getting whey and cream cheese (above) from yogurt (below). You can totally use store bought yogurt for this, it's just less expensive to make your own. I did this last summer quite a bit with regular Walmart (it was hormone free, but that's about all it had going for it) whole milk. This was my first time using decent milk, not raw, but at least it was whole and not homogenized. I was surprised that my whey was thicker and stickier this time. Before it was more the consistency of water, now it was about half way between water and honey.

I use a bowl, cotton yarn (left over from making dish cloths) and cotton dish towels.
Line the bowl with the dish towel, and dump in the yogurt.

You don't want to over fill them or they leak all over and the inside of the cream cheese doesn't get dry enough. So I did two for my 1/2 gallon of yogurt. I tie them up with the yarn and hang from the handles on my cupboards. Nourishing Traditions shows a cute little picture with the ball of cheese hanging off a wooden spoon suspended over a pitcher, but we don't have a tall enough pitcher, so this works for us.

After letting the whey drain out into the bowl beneath, here is the cream cheese about 6 hours later. My cooking schedule depends entirely on nap times and bed times, so I started this in the morning when the kids were playing happily and did the rest (just filling the jars with whey and dumping out the cream cheese) during nap time.

We keep both in the fridge, the cream cheese doesn't stay fresh all that long so you'll want to use it pretty quickly.

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Making Yogurt- Cooler method

I wanted to do lactofermented pickles, so first I needed to get whey. Whey is the byproduct of making cream cheese from yogurt. So making yogurt is the first step. Whole milk and yogurt from the health food store. Both are from the bottom about-to-expire shelf on the dairy section. It's illegal in Montana to sell raw milk, and we don't 'own our own cow' through a milk share program any more because we're mostly dairy free and just couldn't use it any more. Non0homogenized is the best I can do.

Rather than re-writing what I've learned in Nourishing Traditions and The Maker's Diet, I'll just go ahead and direct you to Kelly's post on the subject if you're not familliar with why raw real whole milk is the best. I'm just here to show you pictures of how to make yogurt.
You only need a dab of yogurt to culture the entire half gallon of milk into yogurt. I spread most of it into ice cube trays to freeze for next time and left about 2 tablespoons in the bottom of the container for this batch. This is french vanilla organic yogurt with live cultures. I've used cheap plain Walmart yogurt before, and it works just fine. The main thing is you need the live cultures.

Heat the milk in a heavy pot. I heat it over medium low until it's just barely too hot to touch.
Then allow it to cool until it's comfortable to touch. Any warmer than this and you might kill the cultures.

Next mix in either 2 cubes of yogurt (thawed, not in the microwave!) or the dab that's left in the bottom of your yogurt container. Mix it in with a fork or whisk to get it all spread through the warm milk.

Pour the yogurt mixture in something that has a lid to incubate it in. I use mason jars usually, this time a mason jar and the plastic yogurt container that I already had out. Plastic most likely isn't ideal...

Put the filled containers in a cooler and add warm/hot water to the bottom. You want them to stay warm. I go ahead and add water to about an inch below the lid of the lowest container (don't want water in my yogurt). I usually do this in a big cooler, but since I was only doing half a gallon today and I was too lazy to go out to the garage, I used hubby's lunch water cooler.

Close the lid as much as possible. I also draped a towel over the whole thing. I did the yogurt mixing part during nap time, then changed the water out for hot water again before going to bed. You want it to stay warm so the yogurt cultures.
And in the morning we have yogurt. You can refrigerate it, or do what I did and turn it into whey and cream cheese.

Updated: Cream Cheese and Whey pics here

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Busy weekend

I went out this weekend wanting to get the supplies to make pickles. And it turned into large amounts of shredding, mashing, slicing... I'll show you this week. All of this was done in one day, around nap times and walks, cooking, and laundry. I love that about traditional eating- none of it is an exact science, and just like with the soaked bread, there's a lot of 10-minute hands-on periods and then a few hours of waiting.

Smashing sauerkraut with my make-shift pounder (A Mason Jar in a Tupperware)

Cream Cheese
Yogurt. Because I needed the whey for lactofermenting.
Pickles, ginger carrots. Both are lactofermented. I did these last summer and they turned out really well.

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Introducing Solids This time 'round

Sources: Bib is made by me, bowl is a custard cup my mom gave me years ago, cup is from Down To Earth Toys, spoon from Organic Grace

With my first, I know we have food allergies in my family so I waited until she was a year to introduce solids. Then I introduced plain steamed non-allergenic veggies, cut in soft chunks so she could self regulate and feed herself. I did it pretty much as described on She didn't like them, but she loved my food that had a little bit of salt and fat in it. Go figure. I asked around a little bit, and discovered that babies do need salt. So I started actually seasoning her food (she pretty much just ate what we ate, with a few exceptions) and she started liking it.

With her we did wait to introduce grains til 18 months as suggested by our doctor. I'm not able to find a whole lot of documented information, but there are suggestions that babies don't make the enzymes necessary to digest grains (amylase I think). And by watching the 'output' in her diaper, it was apparent that this is true. You can learn a lot about what babies digest and don't by watching their output. I babysat a family who really were trying to do the right thing, they were vegetarian and gave their young toddlers lots and lots of whole grain cereal. Those babies (they were twins) constantly had sunken looking eyes, and full full diapers not long after their meals. Their food passed through them barely digested. In hind sight, I see the reason, but I didn't know then so we just figured that was how their bodies were.

So, remembering this and armed with the knowledge our doctor gave us, I did cautiously give Hannah some rice, oatmeal, and whole wheat bread, and watched for what happened. There was evidence that she didn't digest any of it well until somewhere between 18 months and 2 years. I'd expect that the exact age is dependant on genetics. Now that she's older, she doesn't have any problems with grains at all.

Our doctor also suggests only giving a baby under 12 months meat if you pre-chew it for them, so the enzymes in your saliva start to work on digestion for them. Since we don't start solids til a year anyway, this isn't relevant to us.

We avoid milk products as long as possible too, I think I avoided even butter with my first until she was 18 months. She still shows the same allergy I have (gets sinus infections and some other allergic symptoms from milk products in too big of a quantity), so I'm not sure if holding off on the milk helped her or not. My son is very sensitive to any milk I have in my diet that he gets through my milk, so I'm guessing he'll be more sensitive than my daughter is. We'll see.

We avoided nuts until near 2 years, but that was more because of lack of teeth. I was a little nervous about peanuts/peanut butter with my first, but it wasn't an issue. If we had a history of peanut allergy I think I'd wait until 5 or so.

Both my babies haven't shown any 'need' to start solids earlier than 12 months either. My son is 7 months and is 95th percentile for his weight. He was around 11 lbs when he was born, and is still growing and thriving on just my milk alone.

This time around I'll go right into the seasoned foods, salted to taste with sea salt. We'll hold off on grains again and see how they go at 18 months. I'll continue nursing for about 24 months. With my daughter, I nursed her until she was 27 months- her brother was born when she was 26 months and I wanted to not make two big transitions at once, so I waited and saw how she adjusted to the new baby (she was fine) and then was pretty matter of fact about it and it wasn't an issue. If it had been, I would have just nursed her a little longer.

So, you say, without grains or milk, what will you feed the child? I'm not really on top of things enough to do seperate meals, pureed food, or anything like that for my kids, so I try to just incorperate one or two things into the main meal that are grain and dairy free. Some suggestions:

Mashed potatoes with chicken stock, the fat from the chicken stock, and sea salt
Cooked veggies with coconut cream and salt
Meat. I usually shredded it to prevent choking if it's not ground beef/turkey.
Scrambled eggs
Taco meat- just don't do the tortilla and rice on taco night
Ground beef and avacado was a favorite for a while
Potato salad

The only time I have trouble is if we're eating something that's mostly starch for dinner. But we really shouldn't be doing that anyway. If I do, though, I just pulled out something that was leftover for the baby.

With our next baby I might consider doing Sally Fallon's recommendation of a lightly cooked egg yolk a day starting at 4 months, but I'm kind of wary about that since my babies seem to do so well on human milk alone. I'm still thinking about it.

If there's something I didn't cover, feel free to ask. None of this is scientific, but just is based on what has worked for us in the past.

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Sunday, June 28, 2009

Menu Plan- Maker's Diet

This is 'The Maker's Diet Phase 3' since that's the phase you're supposed to stay on. Mostly. I'll note any exceptions.

Breakfasts: We mostly always do soaked whole wheat bread, toasted with organic peanut butter. And coffee with coconut milk for me.

Lunch: Leftovers if there are any (!) and egg salad on soaked wheat bread (above)

Snacks: Fruit, organic tortilla chips from Costco, crispy almonds. Afternoon Iced Mocha (dairy free) for me most days during nap time.

Dinners are what I really plan, we follow the same plan each week but add a little variety within that plan.

Monday: Chicken and rice. Barbiqued chicken thighs this week, marinated in olive oil, orange juice, and apple cider vinegar. Jasmine rice since we're still using that up! Broccoli too, steamed with the rice.

Tuesday: Tuesday is pizza night. Going out on a limb and trying soaked wheat for the toddler's and my pizza. Regular white pizza dough for hubby's.

Wednesday: Beans and Rice. And salsa and avocado and tortilla chips.

Thursday: Breakfast for Dinner, we'll do whole wheat waffles again, with scrambled free range eggs and turkey sausage

Friday: Pizza again. Easy french bread pizza to give mom the night off.

Saturday: Burgers on the BBQ, homemade fries, green salad. We hope to have friends over this afternoon, so we'll move dinner up to coordinate with everyone's nap and bedtime schedules :)

This is a part of menu plan Monday


Saturday, June 27, 2009

Real Maple Syrup Research - Organic or not?

Passionate Homemaker's post on maple syrup, and the discussion afterward, including how many small business maple syrup producers don't bother with the organic certification. This makes sense to me, it's how our Wheat Montana is here. It also sounds like formaldehyde isn't actually often used any more, that part of Nourishing Traditions is most likely outdated.

Highland Sugarworks 100% Grade B Maple Syrup, 32-Ounce JugI looked up the Wiki page on maple syrup to learn about what 'grade B' is that Sally Fallon recommends. It looks like the lighter syrup, or A grade, is 'fancy' but the darker has more flavoring. More flavoring means I use less, so that totally works for me!

I've been using swagbucks to buy Coombs Family Farms 100% Pure Organic Maple Syrup Grade B, 32 Ounce Jug off Amazon.

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Grape Seed Oil

I bought grape seed oil this morning, it's made in Napa County, neighboring Sonoma County where I grew up. I was surprised that it was inexpensive, organic grapeseed oil for either the same price or cheaper than I regularly play for nonorganic olive oil.

Mostly I just want it for muffins or when I'm out of butter. I don't really like butter in my muffins, they come out heavier than I like. I'm pretty sure Sally Fallon isn't a fan of grape seed oil, but I wanted to see what I could find out about how it compares to other plant-based oils.

Kelly the Kitchen Kop did the same research here

In the comments in her post someone actually talks about the cold-pressed oil that I bought, which hopefully means that it's clear from the carcinogens usually used to process the oil. Looks like coconut oil is (as I expected) a better choice. I still need to figure out and put in my first order to Azure Standard, since good quality coconut oil in town is prohibitively expensive.


Little toddler cups

We ordered little cups ( here) that I've been wanting for a long time. They're made in Poland. I've seen enamelware cups in camping sections of outdoor stores, but they're always made in China. And with the chipping paint and China's history of not having healthy stuff in their paint, I just didn't want to risk it for my kids. So my toddler has been drinking out of little jam jars a lot. She was thrilled to have her own little cup. They each have one, the baby teethes on his.

With sippies, not only do I not love all the plastic that they're made with, but their a pain in the bum to clean. And an 'open cup' like these are is best for oral motor development. We still have a sippy that we keep filled with water in bed, since sometimes my little girl is too distracted during the day to drink, so a sippy in bed solves that problem for us.


Friday, June 26, 2009


I recently discovered the blog Keeper of the Home, and I finally got a chance to look back at some of her posts. Since it's summer now, I was wanting to write about what I had found out about sunscreen. But her Sunscreen post is just what I wanted to say, so I'll direct you there instead.

My 2-1/2 year old has only had sunscreen on once, that was when we went on a hike and there were some parts of the trail where she couldn't be kept in the shade. And I really wanted to go on the hike ~grin~. But we prefer not to use sunscreen because of the ingredients it contains.

The sun precautions that we take are similar to Keeper of the Home's post above. Keeping the kids out of the sun is also why I wanted to find a jogging stroller, they get too much sun when I have one on my back in the Ergo for longer walks (though I love love love the Ergo Baby Carrier for other things). I also keep sunscreen in the diaper bag just in case we end up doing something where they are going to have to be out in the sun. But I haven't had the need to use it yet.

I've heard, and need to look more into, that wearing dark glasses isn't the best thing to do either. I try to evaluate everything by how we were created. I believe we were created without dark glasses for a reason ~grin~, but then I also think that we weren't created to drive long distances focusing on a bright glaring road either, so I'm guessing dark glasses are preferred for driving. I stopped wearing them when we just go on walks and do other outside stuff, and I do notice that my mood is improved when I come in from outside. I'll share if I find anything that reflects my random observations

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Soaked Whole Wheat Waffles

Thursdays are Breakfast for Dinner night (our general menu plan). We had waffles, apples, and turkey sausage. I used this Pure Maple Syrup that I bought with the $25 sign up bonus for I was really thinking of buying knitting books, but ended up doing the perhaps more useful thing and buying real maple syrup with it. I know Sally Fallon says that some syrup is processed with formaldehyde but I haven't gotten that far in my research to know if this is or not. But I do know it's healthier than the GMO corn syrup junk that's in imitation maple syrup.

It's been a while since we had real maple syrup, I forgot how sweet it was. This was way too much, had to soak some of it up with another waffle. The waffles turned out really well, better than I was expecting.

To make, we pulled out our soaked wheat from Wednesday's bread. I poured 2-1/2ish cups of what was in the bowl into my 4-cup Pyrex measuring cup since I vacuumed and did laundry rather than dishes this afternoon ~grin~. This isn't going to be an exact recipe, but I added about half a cup of coconut milk/cream (the stuff in the can) for my fat, 3 eggs, a grind of coarse sea salt, a dab of honey (maybe 2 tablespoons), and the rest of the apple sauce that was lingering in the fridge, about 1/2 a cup. After I was mixing that all up, I remembered I needed baking soda so I added that (1/2 teaspoon). And also decided to add the juice of a lemon for a little more flavor. I ended up adding 1/2 a cup of white flour in too, just because the batter was really runny.

The lemon reacted right away with the baking soda, and foamed up. Remember baking soda/vinegar volcanoes in science class? Same thing. I thought this might 'use up' the baking soda's rising power, but it didn't, the waffles still came out nice and light.

Finished mixing. I cooked them a little longer than the waffle iron said to, and then put them on the back of the cast iron skillet that I was cooking turkey sausage on to crisp them up a little more and keep them warm. I still am using a waffle iron with nonstick coating, I know I need to figure out an alternative to that. Any suggestions?

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Tooth Soap

I brushed off the idea of tooth soap when I first heard about it. I was still thinking that there isn't much that can be done for teeth. As I'm looking more in depth into dental problems, I do think it might be worth looking into.

First off, I checked the ingredients (source). It's basically coconut/palm/olive oil soap with an added essential oil for taste/smell. That works for me! A while back I was thinking about getting into soap making, so I know that when they say 'soapanified' they mean that they used lye to process the oils into soap. That's okay with me, but I'm going to make sure I'm buying from a reputable company so that the lye is sure to be properly used up in the chemical process. I remember learning that olive oil makes a nice soft lather, and coconut and palm oils make lots of suds, but are drying to the skin.

Next, I went to find some feedback from people who weren't selling tooth soap, since that seems to be a good safeguard.

I found this website that suggests just using plain all natural unscented olive oil soap from a health food store. But I wonder if the drying properties of coconut oil in the soap are important?

Here is a product review. It looks like this tooth soap has the same ingredients, but is in a dropper/liquid form? That might be easier. Not sure how I feel about brushing my teeth with little curls of actual soap.

And another overview

Next I tried to see if anything big and useful came up when I googled 'tooth soap scam' 'tooth soap myth' or any combination like that. I didn't find anything other than saying that it's overpriced and some claims are way exaggerated. I can take that. I think it's worth a try, so I'll be looking into buying it next month (it's the end of the month, you know how that goes...)

Update: I'm using Rose of Sharon Acres' Tooth Chips- Soap for Teeth.  I like the shavings because it keeps tooth brush germs off of the soap.  Also, her flavorings (I like peppermint the best so far) are stronger, so the soap taste is much less.
You can buy a sampler here
Or buy the peppermint here

Update: Got my Tooth Soap
Update: After using for about a month


Thursday, June 25, 2009

Jogging Stroller

The way cool duck pond by our house, that we can walk to without anyone getting too much sun

I've been hemming and hawing about jogging strollers lately, since I figured out that Sam gets too much sun if he's on my back in the Ergo while his sister rides in the stroller and vice versa. Since we've also been going back and forth about getting a second car (it's Dave's fault) I finally decided that I'd like to be able to venture more than a block from my house this summer. A friend suggested Ebay, I had been looking on Craigslist. I normally skip Ebay, since I've not been impressed with the price to quality ratio that they've had on things for the past year or so. But I was able to find a gently used double jogging stroller that folds up for an amount of money I was willing to part with. Glad I didn't spend my BDay money all at Knitpicks now.

I'll let you know how it turns out to work. It's BabyTrend, which I haven't heard of. But I've been happy with our no-name cheap regular stroller from Target for over a year now, so I'm not too brand loyal when it comes to strollers.


Remineralization Toothpastes

I'm still looking into holistic dentistry, and in doing that I've come across remineralization toothpastes. My friend, Jess, recommended Dr Collin's 'Restore' Fluoride free toothpaste. Though she's very knowledgeable about lots of things, I know that before doing anything at all, recommended by anyone, I need to research it myself. So I set off to find the list of ingredients to make sure they were safe, prove, and okay for pregnancy and breastfeeding too since I tend to be doing both of those fairly often. (grin)

It says it contains Novamin, which looks like it's also the name of a psychotropic medication. I'm doubting they're the same thing, but I need to make sure.

Active Ingredients: Calcium Sodium Phosphosilicate (for Antihypersensitivity)

Inactive Ingredients: Glycerin, Amorphous Silica, PEG 400, Sodium Lauryl Sulphate, Mint Flavor, Carbomer, Potassium Acesulfame, Titanium Dioxide

So far I've seen glycerin, which I've heard is not good if you're trying to remineralize your teeth. And SLS, a foaming agent that's been linked to cause cancer? I think I'll pass for now. For right now I'm just using baking soda.

Funny how being healthy so often overlaps with being green and frugal.


Coffee with Coconut Milk to Lose Weight

This morning's coffee with coconut milk (cream) in it. Before I used to put instant hot chocolate in my coffee, but as a 'real food' alternative that I absolutely love, coconut milk is a yummy way to start my day. I feel like it stabilizes my wonky blood sugar issues too (I tend toward hypoglycemia).

Edited to add: In Eat Fat Lose Fat, Sally Fallon describes how coconut fat does actually give the sensation of being full and reduce cravings. I had noticed this about a month after I had switched from {industrial food} hot chocolate to {real food} coconut milk.  Originally I had cut out dairy to clear up my breastfeeding son's eczema, but losing the postpartum weight without cravings was an unexpected but welcome bonus!

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Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Peanut Butter on Yeasted Buttermilk Bread

Just about every morning, or for a nutritious frugal snack, we have toasted soaked wheat bread with Costco's organic peanut butter on it. If I have it, we'll add the solid cream from coconut milk, but regular butter or just plain peanut butter is good too.

My toddler and I seem to both eat frequent substantial meals, so when we come back from doing errands or a walk we often turn to this substantial snack to tide us over til dinner.

This is a part of Pennywise Platter Thursday

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Soaked wheat bread in pictues part 3

(Part 2) making the dough
(Part 1) soaking the flour
Another Soaked Wheat Bread post
I split it up because it is so image heavy

This is our dough, it's taken from 7:30 in the morning til nearly noon, but now it's ready for the oven

For some reason I decided to bake at 425. A little warm. Normally I do 350 or 375 for 40 minutes. When it comes out of the oven, allow to cool slightly before removing from the pan or it'll crumble on the way out. Allow to cool completely before cutting or it will crumble and dry out.
The inside is still nice and moist.