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Health, Home, and Happiness: December 2009

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Coconut Macaroons & review of Tropical Traditions


My Simple GAPS-friendly, gluten free, dairy free, real whole food, 4-ingredient Macaroon Recipe:

6 egg white (save the yokes to add to scrambled eggs)
       (beat until stiff peaks form, I used the whisk attachment on my Kitchen Aid mixer)
Pinch of sea salt
2/3 cup honey (run your honey under some hot water if it has crystallized, it needs to be liquid)
       (add sea salt to the eggs. Slowly pour in honey as the beater is still going)
2-1/2 cups of shredded coconut, unsweetened (see below for a chance to win shredded coconut from Tropical Traditions!)
       (fold in the shredded coconut with a spatula until it's thoroughly mixed. Be gentle, you don't want to deflate the eggs)

Preheat oven to 250

I used a big cookie scoop to scoop onto the an greased (I used coconut oil of course) cookie sheet, but you could mound with a tablespoon also. I left about an inch between my cookies; they don't spread a whole lot.  Time will vary depending on how big your cookies are, these took about 50 minutes.  Allow to cool briefly on the cookie sheet, remove with a thin spatula and cool completely.  They will continue to harden and dry as they cool.

Enjoy! Our family, ahem, ate the entire batch in one day.
Nourishing Traditions has a macaroon recipe on page 532 as well, which isn't GAPS friendly but is just fine for non-GAPS-type people :) (More info on GAPS)

Tropical Traditions sent me a gallon bucket of their shredded coconut to review. I wanted to make GAPS-legal dairy free cookies, so macaroons were a good choice.  A gallon of shredded organic coconut for $15/gallon? I was going to buy some anyway, I don't think this deal can be beat!

The soft white finely shredded coconut.  I love that it comes in a snap-lid bucket too, the bucket is great for re-use after the coconut is used up, and it's easy to store in the pantry. High quality organic coconut, it's exactly what I expected to get from Tropical Traditions. As I've tried their products (coconut oil, coconut cream concentrate, and now shredded coconut), I've always been impressed by their high quality food, fair and ethical treatment of workers, and great customer service.

If you are a first time customer and use my referral code, #5682145, a free book about coconut oil will be included with your order (they credit my account with coconut oil when you use that as well, just so you know, I like this deal ~grin~).

To use the code, in the checkout screen when it asks where you heard of Tropical Traditions, choose 'referred by a friend' and then put in the #5682145. If you don't see the place to put in the #, don't worry, you can just email Tropical Traditions through their customer service page after you place your order and they'll be sure to hook you up with the free book.

Giveaway has closed, #36 won, I'll be emailing in a  minute

I'm signed up for the Tropical Traditions newsletter. I've never made Macaroons before, but I'm excited to try them (email removed for privacy)

You can still
Follow me on twitter
Be my fan on Facebook
Follow Tropical Traditions on Twitter

Giveaway ended on 1/6/10 and the number was picked by on the 7th

Disclaimer: Tropical Traditions provided me with a free sample of this product to review, and I was under no obligation to review it if I so chose. Nor was I under any obligation to write a positive review or sponsor a product giveaway in return for the free product.

My first batch of macaroons. A little dark, but still good.  The oven was at 300 for an hour for these.


Monday, December 28, 2009

Sprouted Pink Lentils (In Soup)

Organic pink lentils, sprouted, and added to soup. Great minds must think alike; the day after I picked up some of these pink lentils from the bulk section of our local health food store, a package came in the mail with the same lentils from my Mama, all the way from Andy's Produce in California. They are pretty, though, don't you think? Sprouted the same way I sprouted buckwheat, just rinsing a couple times a day in a mason jar with a screen for a lid.

I added them to soup, made with chicken broth, moist sea salt, and avocado added in the last few minutes of cooking.


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Friday, December 25, 2009

Cutting Apples to See the Star

Benefit to juicing: You can cut apples to show children the star without having to deal with cutting up funky apple slices.

Merry Christmas!

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Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Coconut Oil Gift

Only a like-minded friend would appreciate this gift- a wrapped jar of Tropical Traditions Gold Label coconut oil. How about you? I know just about 5 years ago I would have been totally puzzled if someone gave this to me. Now I'd be thrilled! I love 'ingredient' gifts! :)

If you're ordering through Tropical Traditions and use my referral code: #5682145  you get a free book and I get a credit to my account.  And a big thank you to everyone who has already!



Monday, December 21, 2009

Olive Oil Mayonnaise

We won't talk about how much nice oil has become nice-oil-with-egg-in-it with my attempts to make mayonnaise. I've attempted it maybe 12 times, and made it successfully three. The first was with canola oil (uck), the second was with grapeseed oil and was bright green but otherwise fine, and this third success was exactly what I was going for- olive oil mayonnaise that looks normal. Just wanted to share. Made in my food processor, with one egg and one cup of olive oil. I'm going to hold off doing any sort of authorative speaking until I'm getting consistently good results, so this is just to share my triumph with you!

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Thursday, December 17, 2009

Real Food Reading

Some generous family members gave me money for the holidays. That means books (and knitting needles) to me. Here's a peek into my future Amazon boxes ;)

The Omnivore's Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals
Health and Nutrition Secrets
Good Calories, Bad Calories: Fats, Carbs, and the Controversial Science of Diet and Health (Vintage)
The Gerson Therapy: The Proven Nutritional Program for Cancer and Other Illnesses
Real Food for Mother and Baby: The Fertility Diet, Eating for Two, and Baby's First Foods
and finally I got around to getting the shower filter, so that'll be in the box too

Look interesting? I love fiction too, but I force myself not to read it often since I get sucked in, my dishes and laundry pile up, and I remain in my PJs way too long.

More: Recommended Real Food Reading


Monday, December 14, 2009

Standard American Diet to Real Food- What I did

I have always been health conscious, but following the 'healthy' diet seemed like a constant life of deprivation, which just wasn't very fun. I swam for exercise (at one point twice a day 5 days a week), and yet was always exhausted. Now that I've found real food that works with my body rather than just the calorie in/calorie out idea, I feel so much healthier!

I started slow. This is the order that I changed things. Nothing in here is very difficult, I promise. I walk for exercise, it's easy to do with my kiddos. I don't make it a chore, but something we look forward to. If we don't get out all week, no guilt trips! But because it makes us feel so good, we want to get out the next week.

Here are the steps I took to get where I am at the moment, and as I try to convey on my blog, I'm always learning and changing. I'd encourage you to do the same, start slow. I'll put boxes by them so you can print this out and stick it on your kitchen cork board and check things off if you'd like. Seeing it out on paper might inspire your family to take interest as well! I know my husband doesn't want to read nutritional books, but if he glances at something I'm reading on a blog he likes to learn more about it in snippets. Kids will surprise you with how much they're interested in health as well.

"Supposing is good, but finding out is better."
- Mark Twain in Eruption; Mark Twain's Autobiography

Vegan/Vegetarian: All those reasons why you've heard that the vegetarian lifestyle is healthier? Here are 49 Reasons to be a Vegetarian: A Rebuttal, at Nourished Kitchen. I think a lot of us who are interested in health fall into the vegetarian trap. It sounds really healthy on the surface, but I know that I never thrived on it. I would encourage you to be informed about vegetarianism, since it will help clarify why we eat what we eat.

Swimming: I swam for exercise, which really is a nice full body workout. I'm not sure that swimming in chemicals is healthy, though, so I don't think I'll encourage this with my children. Public pools are heavily chlorinated, so I take my kids swimming in lakes and slow-moving streams

Milk Allergy: One benefit of going vegan for a couple years was that when I reintroduced milk (cheese pizza at Round Table, I can still remember it) I broke out in hives immediately. That was a good sign that I was allergic to milk products. I had always had really bad seasonal allergies and chronic sinus infections before going vegan, and now that I know to avoid dairy, I don't. Until my teens, we had no idea that I had a diary allergy, since I had become somewhat used to it, so it just manifested in chronic conditions rather than acute (hives) ones. Have chronic infections, eczema, or other problems? An elimination diet might be worth trying.

Water Filter: I grew up on well water, so when we got married and moved to the city, we immediately got a filter to filter out chlorine. Like the milk allergy above, if you've been on city water for a while, you might not notice the chlorine in your drinking water, but I would highly recommend filtering it out anyway. We just use PUR FM-9500 Water Filtration System. I'd love a reverse osmosis one, but for now this is better than nothing.

Childbirth: I have a collection of childbirth and baby links up here. Once again, there's a lot more to it than you'll learn in mainstream childbirth education classes. Reading birth stories, statistics, and talking to a variety of birth professionals (doulas, midwives, and doctors) can help you to have a well-rounded perspective when it comes time to make decisions for your and your baby. We chose to homebirth, so I felt like it was my responsibility to learn all I could. Now I see that wherever you choose to birth, it really is a parent's responsibility to learn the pros and cons of everything, since not everything done by a birth attendant is automatically evidence based.

Switch to regular soda from diet: I was surprised at how hard this is, since caffeine is often blamed for soda addiction. I just wanted to get the artificial sweeteners out of my diet before conceiving, and it was hard, I'm guessing aspartame is addictive to some people. Much easier for me to drop soda all together (later down the list). When I stopped drinking diet soda, I was usually drinking 4 Diet Pepsi a day.

Vaccinations: Again, please be informed of the statistics associated with vaccines, both the benefits and risks. There are also ingredients in vaccines that many of us are not comfortable giving our children.

Butter: Kitchen Stewardship has a great overview of all the reasons why you need to stop buying margarine and start buying real butter at the store. No more tubs of Country Crock (yes, that was a regular in my fridge 4+ years ago). No need to jump ahead to buying local grass-fed organic butter. Just start with replacing those cubes and tubs with real cow-milk butter. Now we use more coconut oil, but when we were mostly eating butter as our fat we went through 16 lbs a month.

Buy Nourishing Traditions and just look through it. I bought it when I was pregnant with my daughter and I think it was a good 6 months before I made any significant changes to our diet. The excerpts in the side bars of the pages and the overview at the beginning of each chapter are nice places to start. Skip the recipes for fermented fish sauce and brains, we won't start there ~smile~. (more recommended reading here, but digest Nourishing Traditions for a while before building a whole library)

Get rid of Crisco: I had been holding onto Crisco for cookies (Betty Crocker's recipe) but I finally let that go and switched to butter. So do that now. If you're using it to fry, switch to coconut oil.

Bought a wheat grinder, started making whole wheat bread: I read some articles on the importance of freshly ground whole wheat flour, and was interested. I bought my grain mill used (I love buying things used). Now I'll occasionally use Wheat Montana's whole wheat flour, but I usually just buy a 5-pound bucket of their wheat berries. They're easier to store and don't go bad like already ground flour does. I'm okay with buying whole wheat flour already ground, though, since it's local and pretty fresh. I keep it in my freezer at home. I didn't know about soaked wheat bread (see below) yet. I like my electric mill, but I'd also like to get the hand crank mill from Nova Natural to use with the kids.

Bought a natural crib mattress for my daughter. I did the same for my son when he moved to a crib for his naps (ahem, or when I thought he would. He is napping in our bed as I type this)

Stop buying corn dogs: Or other convenience food of choice ~smile~. Corn dogs were my personal favorite. Now I usually do quesodillas as fast I-forgot-to-figure-out-dinner food.

Switch to natural peanutbutter: I know it's different, but the natural stuff is good. Think of the hydrogenated peanut butter as more of a junk food, not something nourishing. I liked to spread the natural stuff on toast first, so it would melt a little bit.

Cut out food dye: I was intrigued by the book Why Your Child Is Hyperactive at this point in my 'real foods' journey. Reading it convinced me to not let any products containing food dye ever enter my child's mouth. We messed up a few times (marshmallows have blue dye in them, not being able to get dye-free medicine), but overall we've stuck to this. And it works well to keep junk out of the house, or at least out of little ones' mouths.

Detour: Baby food. As my little one was getting close to the 'eating stage' I did a cram session on this.

Soaked wheat bread: It isn't hard, I promise.

Good quality prenatal: I really wish I had figured out the value in a good quality foods-derived vitamin with my first pregnancy, but I didn't figure it out til my second.

Lactoferments: I was wary of these at first, but now I love them. I can feel that digestion is easier then I add some to each meal. We generally just add sauerkraut to everything, even hubby has it on his sandwich instead of lettuce.

Soaked nuts: Seriously easy, and it takes the bitter 'bite' out of them. You can use them to make honey nut brittle too- easy! and a real food!

Stop with sodas: We still drank rootbeer and coke after stopping with the diet verstions. Corn syrup, artificial flavoring, no thanks. Now we don't even like them any more.

Switch to real salt
: It's easy, I just didn't get my act together and buy a grinder until way down here on the list.

Humidifier with essential oils: I was surprised how this cheap and easy fix can prevent sickness and help prevent it as well.

Lots of shuffling with the budget: Every once in a while I have to really examine how I can juggle the money around to afford things like organic foods. Cutting out the junk helps a lot.

Watched the Future of Food: Hulu has it for free, I highly recommend watching it. I wasn't very informed about GMOs until I watched this, and it's a movie that both hubby and I enjoyed.

Diligent about avoiding GMOs: It seemed overwhelming at first, but now that I'd gotten most of the junk out of our diet and was eating mostly whole foods, I just made sure that all corn, soy, and canola were organic if they were in our food. As far as I know 'organic' still isn't genetically modified. Some slips in every once in a while for us adults (corn syrup!), but I'm usually able to be strict enough with the kids.

Homemade Lunch Meat: See, none of this stuff is too complicated. Put a chicken in the crock pot. Take the chicken out of the crock pot. Take meat off. There ya go ~smile~

Chicken stock makes really good soup: I used chicken stock in things like rice for a long time before I even bothered to make soup with chicken stock. It's really good! It's filling and satisfying, whereas soup made with water just doesn't really cut it for our family.

Homemade refried beans: Cans are lined with questionable material, and canned refried beans are either made with questionable ingredients (msg, 'natural flavors') or are super expensive. Making them in the crockpot makes them taste better and they're super cheap.

Brown Rice: Around this time I finally finished up the bulk package of white (jasmine) rice that I had, and I switched to brown. Our Costco had a bulk bag of organic brown for pennies a pound. I cook my brown rice a long time, a couple hours, and soak it the night before. It softens this way and isn't tough/dry.

organic beef: Finally I got my finances in line here to be able do this on a regular basis. If I try and cook regular beef, I can taste the chemicals in it now. Gross.

Tooth soap: I know, weird. But it works so well, you won't want to switch back.

Cut out corn syrup: There's nothing good in corn syrup. In addition to containing GMOs (in non organic) it's much more processed than sugar. Jam, fake syrup, and ketchup are some sources of corn syrup that were the last to leave my house. It still makes its way in every once in a while, but I'm generally not the one bringing it in ~grin~

Natural deodorant: This surprised me, it works better than any deodorant I've ever tried, natural or not.

Natural shampoo, conditioner
: Super easy. Most of the time I just use baking soda in my hair (I just rub about 1 tablespoon in dry hair before showering now) and I always do a vinegar rinse to condition. About once every few weeks I use Burt's Bees Shampoo, but still with the vinegar rinse. I've used an egg yolk as shampoo before too, but it's more of a hassle to do that. It works well though. If you're nervous about it, just try on a Saturday when you can wear a hat or you're not going out :)

Natural household cleaners: Baking soda to scrub, vinegar for everything else. Essential oil added to make it all smell nice. I got a steam mop that I love, I'll add a couple drops of lemon essential oil to the pad before I mop my floors. I know this is a ridiculous amount of money to pay for a mop, but with the steam I feel like I can sanitize the floor my kids play on without chemicals. I'll go around and squirt any spots with vinegar before mopping and it comes right up. I'm still working on this (Cascade in my dishwasher, Oxyclean on the clothes, somewhat natural laundry detergent that could be better)

Natural cosmetics: I'm not a big makeup wearer, so all this consists of is a natural mineral mascara, and Burt's Bees lip gloss. I tossed my conventional versions.

GAPS: Gut and Psychology Syndrome is a book about clearing up many chronic conditions (from eczema to allergies to autism to depression) through healing the gut. I find it fascinating, and it's worth looking into if you struggle with any chronic condition. I'm trying it mostly just as a gentle cleanse and for allergies. Sometimes people ask me about diets and cleanses, and this is what I would recommend. I think it would be beneficial, even if for a month. And I'd personally feel comfortable doing it even while pregnant or breastfeeding.

Buying Local: As I become more interested in real whole foods, I'm slowly finding local farmers to shop from. Most of them rely on word-of-mouth, so they're not super easy to find. We enjoy local honey and squash now, for a fraction of the supermarket price. I just was able to buy organic grass fed beef for a discount by going in on a share of a cow too.

Juicing: I consider juicing more of a supplement than a necessity. But in certain circumstances it's a good idea to look into.

Next up:

Learning more about herbal medicine: Stephanie of Keeper of the Home has a lot of posts about herbal medicine. I'm starting to use herbs for some things, but I still have a long way to go in this area.

Get a shower filter: When we were in the country on well water I didn't think about it, but now that our water is chlorinated I really need to get it together and buy a shower filter. I'll just get one for the shower and then fill up the kids' bath with the shower. Or skin does let things through, so we're getting chlorine in our bloodstream every time we're in chlorinated water. I didn't even realize how cheap they were til I looked them up for this list here.

Finish replacing chemical products with natural ones (Cascade, Kirkland 'natural' laundry detergent, Oxyclean)

I know there's lots more I want to learn I'll add to the list as time goes on

(part of Works for Me Wednesday, Real Food Wednesday, and Fight Back Friday)

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Friday, December 11, 2009

Cranberry Oatmeal Muffins

Moving from my craft blog again, this was posted a couple years ago. I liked the picture so I can forgive the white flour. (grin)

I'm always happy to see cranberries in the stores again! We even have them up in our small town this year, no need to go all the way down to the city to get em.

My mama's recipe.

Cranberry Oatmeal Muffins
3/4 cup flour
3/4 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup oats
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 cup cranberries (I use half a package, whatever that is)
1/4 cup melted butter or oil
1 cup milk
1 egg

Combine wet ingredients, add in dry (making sure to mix the baking powder with flour to avoid the icky baking powder pockets) and add in cranberries last.
Bake at 425 degrees 15 to 20 minutes

I double it because these go fast, even though just hubby and I eat them. I also use the little paper cups... because I absolutely hate washing muffin tins.

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A nourishing meal for a friend

Soaked wheat rolls (same as the bread, just made into rolls), chicken veggie soup, carrot ginger apple juice, crabapple jelly.

I love feeding friends who like and understand real food. I often forget how 'weird' we eat until we have people over for dinner and I'm scrambling to figure out what I can serve that's real food but isn't too 'weird'. I usually settle on burritos with homemade refried beans, brown rice, organic beef, veggies, and real cheese.

But in this case, my friend understands and appreciates the healthfullness of soaked wheat rolls, chicken soup made from homemade stock, jelly with local fruit, and the fresh pressed juice.

And she knows that I'm just using the jars as storage containers, it doesn't mean that the food is shelf-stable :o) Sometimes people visit and think that I can a lot of stuff. Nope, I don't can much, but I do use mason jars instead of plastic containers a lot!

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Thursday, December 10, 2009

Benefits of using cloth menstrual pads

(moving this over here from my other blog as I clean up over there)

Why use cloth?
♥ Cloth is better for you (the chemicals used to make disposable pads have been linked to cancer and other reproductive harm, feel free to comment if you'd like to learn more).
♥ Cloth is better for the environment, nothing goes in landfills each month.
♥ Cloth is also more respectful of women; changing the mindset from a monthly cycle being something that is dirty and needs to be thrown away to the mindset of a monthly cycle is normal and something to be taken care of respectfully. In this same way cloth diapers are more respectful of babies.

Feel free to ask any questions, either by comment- I'd be happy to answer :)

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Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Review: Farberware Potato Peeler

I broke the potato peeler that hubby brought into our marriage 6+ years ago with my vigorous squash and apple peeling as of late.

Walmart is the only place in this part of town that sells potato peelers, so that's where we headed. Since my husband tends to analyze every purchase, all the way down to a $3 potato peeler, I assured him that I would post his findings on my blog for the benefit of fruit and vegetable peelers everywhere.

I was going for a comfortable handle, he was evaluating for likelihood that it would survive at least 6 years of hard use. We settled on the Farberware Professional Stainless Steel Euro Swivel Peeler, with him leaning more toward one that looked like Jonas Original Potato Peeler, but it wasn't made in Sweden, and came in a two pack for $1.99.

Although he was sure the all-metal design of the classic peeler was surely needed to withstand vigorous peeling, we were pleasantly surprised at the ease of which we could peel even butternut squash with the new, sharp, swiveling blade. The drawback to the Farberware peeler is that the top part that can scoop out bruises and blemishes is made of plastic, and thus doesn't hold up. But keeping a paring knife near the peeling station is a small price to pay for a comfortable handle that's slip resistant and big enough to grasp easily.

This post has not been brought to you by anyone other than myself, in an attempt to humor my husband (who thinks my blog is humorous in and of itself)

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Monday, December 7, 2009

Frozen Bulk Cookie Dough

My mother-in-law gave me an enormous cookie scoop for Christmas one year, so 12 cookies is plenty for a week for one person (the kids and I aren't eating cookies right now). I make a large batch of cookies once a month or so, scoop and freeze on a cookie sheet, pop off, and then bake 12 at a time (how many my cookie sheet holds).

The recipe, roughly:

3 sticks butter (I still want to try this with coconut oil, at least part, and will next time)

1-1/2 cups sugar

Cream butter and sugar and add in

4 eggs
2 tsp vanilla extract

1 tsp sea salt

Mix well

Add in

3-4 cups flour (depending on if you like flat or cakey cookies

1 tsp baking soda

1/4 tsp cream of tartar

2 cups chocolate chips

I bake at 375, 15 minutes


Friday, December 4, 2009

The Benefits of Dressing in Natural Fiber Clothing

It took moving to Montana for me to discover the real benefits of natural fiber clothing. Sub-zero temperatures quickly fine-tuned my clothing standards, now I try to choose natural fibers, especially with what's next to the skin.

My children are dressed for the weather with cotton thermal long johns, wool sweaters, wool mittens, and hats/hood to cover their ears from the wind. If it's above 20 degrees and isn't too windy, we still go out for fresh air, we just bundle up first.

I love wool especially because it breathes but stays so warm. Superwash wool (my son is wearing superwash wool socks but you can't see them) can be machine washed. I usually wash it on cold and dry it flat. Layering wool seems to work the best, we wear a long sleeve shirt under, wool sweater over, and then if it's really cold, a coat over that.

Wool not only is a great insulator, but it's naturally antibacterial so it doesn't need to be washed as often. Wool wicks moisture away from the body, and as I learned when looking at wool for cloth diapers, wool can hold quite a bit of wetness without letting the moisture seep through to other clothing (think of walking in a drizzle- your wool sweater would get damp, but it holds the moisture and it doesn't soak the shirt underneath and make you cold). To top it off, wool is naturally flame resistant, making it a healthy choice for sleepwear and bedding.

If you think you have a wool allergy, you might actually be allergic to the chemicals used in processing the wool in some clothing. In that case, you could try less processed undyed wool from a high-quality supplier and see how you do with that. Green Mountain Diapers has a some thoughts on this as well.

Sources for wool clothing:
Nova Natural has beautiful woolens for the whole family
Sierra Trading Post is where we found wool long johns for my outdoor-working hubby
TJ Maxx has nice thick socks with wool or alpaca in them. I love to wear these in the winter. They're cute too. I look for ones with the highest % of wool or other animal fiber, since those are the warmest.
Thrift stores are a great place to find wool sweaters.

I resorted to learning to knit because I wanted to dress my family in wool but couldn't keep up with the cost. The wool hoodie my son is wearing in the picture is made with Knitpicks yarn. The whole sweater cost me $6. The time factored in is considered, but knitting is a rewarding hobby for me, and something I can do while watching a movie with hubby, sitting on the floor while the kids play, or riding in the car.

For simple, soft, all cotton, durable clothing I love Hanna Andersson. Pricey, but it lasts a long time, both for the same child (my daughter is still wearing the same dress/leggings sets that she wore last year) and when passed down to siblings or friends. Our favorites are the two-piece thermal long johns/PJs (the two piece allows you to order big because of the tight-fitting PJ rule), pilot caps, wiggle pants for the little ones especially in cloth diapers, and the survivor jacket. Grandparents treat to these for holidays especially, which helps keep our toys from becoming overwhelming. We get a lot of basics at thrift stores, I just look for brand name clothes, and then fill in with stuff from Target, watching to make sure it's all 100% cotton.

Leather shoes: We like those little Robeez-style shoes for little ones, then once they need shoes with soles I buy one pair of laceup shoes in each size, of a good-quality brand. We like to keep things simple over here, so we limit choices of footwear ;) I like them to lace up because I feel like they get a better fit, and we like leather because it's not sweaty/stuffy like vinyl or plastic. I like plain plain plain, so I learned to sew the leather baby shoes in order to make exactly what I wanted, but for a fraction of the price.

Keeping the 'core' warm: I was advised when doing childcare that it's best to keep the children's trunk and head warm, that way they still can play freely but they are warm enough. We use vests a lot for this, and the kids and I like them. I find that if I'm wearing a vest, I can skip a heavy sweatshirt inside in the winter. The sleeves on my sweatshirt seem to always be dragging through things, so this saves on laundry as well :)

Avoiding Polyester: We prefer to avoid polyester clothing as much as possible. Both my kids' snow suits have polyester fleece in them, but other than that I don't think they have any polyester clothing. In addition to being made from petroleum and out gassing chemicals, in the case of a fire or too much heat polyester clothing will melt to the child. Not good. Both my kids as babies would also get rashes from any polyester (especially fleece) touching their skin.

What do you think? Do you have a favorite wool sweater, or insist on only 100% cotton t-shirts?


Dressing Children Simply


Natural bedding

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Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Bulk Once A Month Cooking & Pizza Dough Recipe

There are a bunch of bloggers doing a once a month cooking day this week. I find that it works best to do mine Sunday afternoon while my toddler sleeps and my baby (who is hit and miss whether he'll nap without me laying down with him) plays with dad. And mine is more just plain bulk cooking rather than once a month, since I don't do enough to last all month of most things.

If you're on twitter, we're using the #oamc hashtag, there's a Facebook event, and Money Saving Mom and LifeAsAMom are hosting the whole thing.

I love bulk cooking because
a. it lessens the amount of Papa John's pizza we consume.
b. I don't have to do as many dishes and
c. it's easier to stick to my menu when I don't have to do much for dinner.

2 out of 3 lbs of meatballs that I rolled, mixed in sea salt, fresh ground pepper, and ginger before rolling.

When I'm prepping for a big day (or naptime) of cooking, I prioritize what takes longest or is most helpful (start that first) and what isn't (pumpkin seeds are nice, but aren't going to prevent the whole Papa John's pizza thing from happening)
Meatballs are our substitute for the kid-standard of chicken nuggets. If you're doing them not on GAPS, you can add bread crumbs or ground (dry) oats and an egg to stretch the meat. My kids like them because they're kid-sized and easy to chew.

Pizza dough: I can fit enough for 5 mediumish pizzas in my KitchenAid. Five a month works well for us.

Roughly: (I'm awful at measuring)
5 cups white flour
1/2 cup coconut oil
1 tsp sea salt
2-1/2 cups warmish water
2 tsp yeast

Dump in. Turn on mixer. Turn off after 10 minutes or so and allow to rise.

I roll it out with a rolling pin. It doesn't work right after you mix it, you have to let it rise a little first, then you can roll it. I got 5 good-sized pizzas out of it, and if I had mozzarella I would have made up the whole things, but I didn't, so I just have pre-rolled crust (freezer paper between) in the freezer on a cookie sheet so they freeze flat. These are for hubby since he's not on GAPS.
Buttercup squash and seeds. No water in the pan this time, I greased it with coconut oil to prevent sticking. Sea salt and coconut oil on the seeds; this squash had a ton of seeds!

I did a bunch of juice to clear out my fridge and so I could reduce the amounts of times I washed the juicer. Above is apple/orange, which I did first.

Then I threw out the fruit pulp and did veggies, saving the veggie pulp to put in my chicken stock (which worked really well, thanks for the idea!) I did 3 quarts, we drink about a quart a day.

And the dishes- this is the main reason why I like to cook a bunch at one time. It pretty much takes the same amount of dishes to make meatballs, whether you're making 1/2 a pound or 5 pounds, and the same for everything else. Now to heat up, I just use one pan and that's it.

Not a ton of food today, but a good head start for the week for me. I also do cookies 3 batches at a time (picture coming soon), scoop with a cookie scoop, flash freeze on a baking tray, pop off and put in ziplocks. I do the same thing with rolls for hubby's sandwiches (when I make those) and dinner rolls. I cook enough chicken to last all week at one time, then do all the chicken stock at once too.

So this is how bulk cooking works into my life right now (and I know that some families would eat this all in one setting!) with little ones who need mom. I don't have a problem cooking dinner with them underfoot, or even something like crabapple jelly, but I don't think it would work for our family to do all 30 dinners in one day.

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Winter Squash

Squash from our trip to the farm. I just recently started using squash, so I thought I would post some pictures. It is easy, nourishing, frugal, and healthy- what more could you want?

To cook I usually cut the squash lengthwise, scoop out the pulp, save the seeds if you like them. Put the squash face down in a dish, fill with about 1/2 an inch of water, add a teaspoon or so of sea salt, bake. 300 or whatever my oven is at for something else, for 30-60 minutes. Until the squash is really soft. Then you can scoop out the pulp. Top with maple syrup and butter, sea salt and coconut oil, and if you're new to whole foods, I don't think I'd complain if your kids will eat it with cinnamon sugar on top.

Rachel and Amy show show how they're using squash this year too.

We use squash as a side dish, just cubed or mashed depending on how soft it got. We also do squash fries like these sweet potato fries.

This post is a part of Real Food Wednesday
and is my favorite side dish this fall/winter, so it's up with other blogger's side dishes at the blog progressive dinner

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Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Finding a Deal on Apples

Organic apples are a deal right now at our Costco- less than 70 cents a pound. So I bought 40 lbs. On GAPS/SCD we're eating a lot of cooked peeled fruit. I tried using my Apple Peeler/Corer/Slicer to just peel them, but they're a little too soft and asymmetrical. The peeler does work well on Gravensteins- I did a lot of those when we lived in California. So we used the potato peeler, hubby peeling and me coring and slicing.
My 8-Quart Stockpot holds just a touch more than a 10-pound bag of apples.
After cooking til soft, I froze as many as I could in canning jars, and the rest in sandwich sized ziplocks, frozen laying flat. Canning jars take up more room, but they're safer to store food in. I love these for the kids more than apple sauce since it's not nearly as messy.

On SCD/GAPS I'm eating raw fruit, but the kids are getting cooked because I don't feel like they chew well enough.

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