Real Food

The topic of food has always been important to me. Ever since I went dairy-free for a few weeks in 2007 and noticed the difference in my body I’ve been fascinated with how food effects our health. I also believe it is important to train our children’s palates while they are young by introducing them to a variety of foods. It seems that by the time kids are Nora’s age (6), I’ve found that their preferences are pretty set. Lorelei, however, will try anything at age two. I’ve dabbled a few times with being vegetarian and although I don’t absolutely love meat for every meal I do like it (Jason and Nora are also big fans) and have found it to be necessary to the American diet. However, I love vegetables!

kind diet

During my research, I’ve read a lot of books on vegetarianism and veganism. I’ve gone through many cookbooks at the library that almost always include what they’ve found to be true about either of those diets. I read The Kind Diet most recently and although it is a book about veganism, I really enjoyed her approach to food and being “kind”. (I wrote a book review about The Kind Diet here.) One of the most prolific books I’ve read is The Ethics of What We Eatby Peter Singer. This book was written in such a way that it made me think about our diets without being offended and showed examples of real life choices that all kinds of families have made and why. A while ago I also read What to Eat by Marion Nestle that I think really began my journey of deciding what we should be eating as a family.

The Ethics of What We Eat

I wouldn’t call myself an activist or a Peta member, but after reading Peter Singer’s book in particular I realized that I couldn’t support companies that don’t treat the animals well while they are being raised or at slaughter and don’t feed the animals what their bodies were made to eat. I also realized that perhaps we eat too much meat. If we had a farm or I had to personally kill, pluck and prepare a chicken would I do it every night of the week? This is the main reason why I’ve incorporated buying humanely treated meat whenever I can. They have a certified seal on most packages (much like a certified organic seal) or I’ve been able to do research about the company to find out how they treat their animals. It does cost a little more, but it should and now that cost is in our budget and no longer such a big leap to make. My next step is buying organic butter and cream cheese. It all trickles down, so it makes sense that if I buy meat that is humanely raised, I should support its counterparts as well.

what to eat

Not all of our food choices are lead by ethics, one specifically is because of an allergy. Most recently we have started to steer clear of food dyes and citric acid. My baby girl usually has a rash on her cheeks and around her mouth. It has been there for a long time and only clears up (but never all the way) using a mild steroid topically. Lotion, cortizone and benadryl did nothing or barely anything to it, so we started paying more attention to the things she eats. It was always there, so it was hard to notice what was causing it. Occasionally there would be a “flare-up” and I was able to pinpoint things that were obvious. I am not very good at resisting junk food when I’m pregnant (I’m currently addicted to Nutty Bars), so for the first time Lorelei and I were eating crap like Pop-tarts and Doritos. Immediately after these two things her face was fire engine red. Later that day she would also have redness and irritability when changing her diaper. We had done a preliminary screening (strawberries, wheat, eggs, milk etc) for allergies which came back negative, so I looked at common ingredients between these two items. Besides fillers and such they both had yellow #6 and Red #40, which are another less common allergy. I began to think that perhaps they were the culprit. But then she ate an apple pie from Mcdonald’s and had a flare-up. There aren’t any dyes in that, but there is citric acid. I had begun to read more labels, noticing that the additive citric acid is in everything. Since we are looking for something that seems to be in everything because the rash is constant, I thought this might be it. After some research it seems we’ve found that she does have a sensitivity (not necessarily a full blown allergy) to Citric Acid, though rare. Citric acid occurs naturally in citrus foods, but the additive is different, grown from a mold and highly concentrated.

citric acid

It was extremely frustrating to find that almost everything at the grocery store has citric acid in it. It’s used as a preservative, “natural” and cheap, so anything that has a shelf life longer than a few days seems to have citric acid in it. Which lead me to the site, 100 days of real food. Their site is about cutting out processed foods and although their reasoning is different, their “rules” made sense to me. The more I learn, the more I lean towards choosing the organic option if it has limited ingredients or making it myself. Since I pay more attention to the ingredients in the food we buy now, I’ve noticed that they add a caking agent to shredded cheese. I wouldn’t say that Cellulose Powder or Calcium Sulfate is potentially harmful to us, but it’s just another chemical we can avoid by shredding cheese ourselves. However, Calcium Sulfate upon closer inspection is used in the production of citric acid! (I tell you it’s everywhere, lol) I can see why a caking agent is needed because shredded cheese immediately becomes chunky and sticks to itself, so to sell it commercially an anti-caking agent is needed. I doubt I would buy it all sticky like that in the store. Another thing I’ve noticed though, is that when you shred it yourself it definitely tastes better and you don’t need as much. I can probably get away with half the amount of mozzarella cheese I usually use when making lasagna with freshly grated mozzarella as opposed to the bagged stuff. I didn’t buy a high-end food processer either. It’s a cheap one from wal-mart, but it does what I need it to do (and I haven’t killed it yet!).

I feel like we’ve come a long way in the last few years. We’ve definitely solidified that we are meat eaters, but are able to enjoy a variety of dishes and have moved away from a meat/veggie/starch meal every night. We eat more salads and fruits and because of those choices, I feel we are more healthy. Not every meal is the healthiest, but I feel our diet overall is healthy. We are rarely sick and the kids don’t pick up every bug even though Nora started school and so did Lorelei recently. The next step will be exercising more, but that won’t begin until after the baby arrives. Food we are good at, exercising just to exercise…not so much. A hike we can certainly do. :o) I’m sure as the kids grow and I continue to learn things our diet will continue to evolve. Who knows what this next baby will bring to the table (literally), it seems our kids are naturally sensitive to their environment, but I enjoy learning and like I said food in general, so I don’t mind.

Pic sources 1 | 2 | 3 | 4


Laundry

I have tried about 3 or 4 recipes for laundry soap in the last year. I haven’t loved anything except the money we’ve saved and the chemicals we aren’t using in the house via laundry soap. We have sensitive skin in this family.

The first recipe was a fels-naptha recipe and I hated it! There is fragrance in the bar (one of the main things we are avoiding) and it made me sick to my stomach to make it. You must boil the shredded bar of soap on the stove and it was bad, it made the whole house smell for hours, but like I said, we’re sensitive. I finished making it, but I actually gave that 5-gallon bucket to my sister-in-law. She ain’t so picky. :o) There isn’t anything wrong with it, I just couldn’t stand the fels-naptha. I know, I’m weird. I then used a dry recipe with an organic bar of soap I found online. It just didn’t seem cost effective to me (I figured out just today it’s because my shredded soap was not shredded enough.) I tried a liquid recipe as well with another organic bar of soap and it never gelled. That’s okay, though, it still worked and I guess if I had to pick a fave, that one would be it.

kirks-soap

My most recent expedition included a bar of Kirk’s Castile. It was bad in a different way. It didn’t gel, it sortof solidified. Chunky, flaky goo is what happened and I swear I followed these directions perfectly! I came across another dry recipe while searching for the kirk’s liquid recipe and since I only had one bar, I couldn’t try it, until today. There are two things that made this my favorite recipe so far; my new food processer and the simplicity of the recipe. I loathe grating. It is probably the one chore I could do without in the kitchen. I would rather prepare a raw turkey or chicken everyday for a week than grate cheese or a bar of soap, so the food processor is my new bestie! Also, there really is no measuring for this recipe. It’s a full box each and three grated bars of Kirk’s. No boiling either since it’s a dry recipe. (yay!)

If this one doesn’t work I may go back to buying laundry soap. I make it difficult because of my revulsion to fels-naptha. I’m like that. If you like fels-naptha, then why aren’t you making your own laundry soap? It worked perfectly the first time and the ingredients are super cheap, that is, if you aren’t buying a $10 bar of organic soap. Even if you are, it’s still cheaper than something like Charlie’s. Notice that I haven’t complained about whether or not our clothes are clean? Each of these recipes have done the job. Is it too much to ask to not be thinking about how much I hate putting soap in the washer every time I do a load? lol I’m hearing a tiny violin playing nearby with “my heart bleeds for you”… :o)

Source


Ergo

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Crazy blurry pic of Lorelei in the Ergo

Last weekend Amber, Sheena and I met a douche guy in a parking lot in Asheville and exchanged moula for an Ergo. I wrote about wanting an Ergo here and continued to peruse Craigslist about once a week since writing that post to no avail. There was a close call once while we were in Lakeland, but she changed her mind. Full retail for the ergo I want is $135. That is a lot of money for something that I’ve never really seen in person and only heard rave reviews from friends, so I was determined to find one (or suffer) on Craigslist.

When I would check the postings there was never an Ergo in Lakeland or Franklin, they were always in Orlando or Asheville, another reason I was hesitant to snatch one up. Anyway, I figured I would check again for an Ergo a few days before our planned trip to Asheville last weekend and lo and behold there was a Performance Ergo for a great price. I emailed and waited to hear if the dude still had it. It turns out he did and we went back and forth for a few days trying to nail down a time and place to check it out. THAT was fun. (There should be a protocol that you have to adhere to when posting on Craigslist, but I digress.) We went to Asheville as planned, all the time I was waiting to hear from this guy. I finally emailed him late in the day to say, I was leaving the area and that’s when he got back to me. In the meantime, we were at Target and I saw two ladies wearing the old style Ergo. It was a bit…um… bulky. I still could not make a decision. Maybe I wasn’t supposed to get it? Would it be this difficult if I shouldn’t? What if I really didn’t like it? You know when you persist in an area and then it turns out you should have just left it alone? I was super afraid that that would happen. I even tried on a different type-sling-thing at Target, but it hurt my shoulder and was definitely unsafe and the opposite of hands-free, but it was cute and only $25. Should I get it anyway??

I told the guy that I would have to try it on and started to talk myself into telling him I didn’t like it, if I seriously didn’t. We made it to the drop-off point and I tried it on and put baby girl in it. It was so comfortable! It distributed her weight evenly and was not as bulky as the old style. I went ahead and got it, crossing my fingers that it was a good decision!

I loved my Moby and so did Lorelei. This Ergo is not a Moby. The first few times I tried it on with her after coming home from Asheville, she did not love it. I told myself I could just resell it on Craigslist if it didn’t work out and kept trying. I wore it around the house, I wore it to the bus stop, I put it on this morning when Lorelei was fussy and it did the trick. I think part of having a carrier is learning to think to use it and we are definitely getting there. I will just need to get some strap covers because she chews on them! lol Still no teeth though.

This morning I was so frustrated because Lorelei would squirm when I held her making it impossible to do so, she would cry if I put her down to play and she refused to take a nap (which she most OBVIOUSLY needed). I decided to try the ergo because carrying her used to calm her down a few months ago and I could at least drink my coffee (LHM). Peace immediately in her and myself. Good old hormones. I used to think that I needed to get “away” when the frustration mounted, but it turns out that carrying her makes me feel so much better and her I think also. I think getting the Ergo was worth it. I just wish it were green! lol


Means to an End

I got pregnant with the full knowledge that the first year you are pretty much devoted to your child. I knew that she would need me 24/7 and that my desires would be out the window for a while. I am okay with this. As long as I get enough sleep and take care of myself, I’m happy to take care of my baby. I have been using the Moby pretty much constantly since she was born which frees me up to do the other things that need to be done. That doesn’t mean they get done, but I get more done and am less stressed about it than if I were rushing to get stuff done during a short nap or time in the swing. Also, she really enjoys it, but as she gets older, heavier and more interested in the world, using the moby is getting more difficult and HOT in this Florida heat! I have been researching other variations of a front carry, but it seems that until they are sitting up on their own (another three months from now) I’m stuck with the newborn positions which Lorelei is growing to hate unless she is nursing and if I’m only nursing in it, then what is the point??

Sigh. I am determined to keep trying because I enjoy carrying my baby, but perhaps I need to look at a different type if carrier? I have heard really good things about the Ergo Baby Carrier. It is pricey, but I have been able to find a few on Craigslist for cheap. I will need to do some research to see if it is for me. I’m not sure anything can compare to the Moby!


Sunshine + My Economical Husband =

When we moved in together we decided that Jason would do the dishes and I would do the laundry. That was over a year ago and we have come to detest our particular chores and have decided to switch.

The kitchen is now much cleaner because I believe that the last step in washing the dishes is to clean the sink and the counters (and sometimes the stove) and Jason has decided that he will spend all weekend doing laundry and line drying most of our clothes.

As a result, we have added a compost bin for my kitchen scraps and Jason is designing a much larger clothesline. We’re so productive during the summer! :o)


What’s That Smell?

C astile soap and vinegar. What!?

I mentioned earlier that I was gonna try the “no poo” method and stop shampooing my hair with such harsh chemicals. I ran out of regular shampoo and had a choice. I could use the castile or I could use Jason’s 2-in-1 Pert *gag*. I opted to use the castile. I purchased a mini size to try it out in Lavender. I don’t wash my hair very often, about once every 3 days or so, and I concentrate on cleaning my scalp the most. I have longer hair that gets tangled easily and did I mention I am really tender headed? I went ahead with it anyway.

Castile soap is mild and organic and way in the green for the Skin Deep test. Dr. Bronner’s is all I know of at this point. I have been using it for about two weeks now. My hair is certainly feeling different and kinda freakin’ out. I know it’s clean, but I can’t say I love it. Also, to help with the tangles I have been using apple cider vinegar, which really works, but smells like…err…vinegar. XoP I discovered that Giovanni is a brand that is in the green and at a level I can deal with, so I decided to use their conditioner. I also looked up a recipe for making my own shampoo and tweaked it a bit. It’s mostly water, baking soda and the lavender castile soap. I’m toning it down, knowing that the mixture will do the job. I’m thinking pure castile on my scalp is a little overboard and not to mention expensive, which is counterproductive.

Today, I also used it on my floors. I used vinegar and water with a few drops of castile and it worked beautifully. I feel so good about cleaning the house when I know it isn’t hurting us in any way. What I’m learning about myself through this whole learning process is that I care about my and my family’s body. I care about the earth and taking care of what little I have control over. It’s a hard process to not just go for the easy convenient products that also happen to be cheap, especially when you are on a budget, but I’m learning to make smart choices a little at a time. It helps to have a supportive, yet realistic husband and a friend in the same boat. I have to be able to stand firm in what I believe in to show my Hamburger Helper man that their are better choices we could be making for our bodies and our environment. I’m not too gung-ho just yet, though- baby steps.

It’s hard to start a little at a time because I’m a “go big or go home” kinda girl, but I’m learning that it doesn’t always have to be that way. Some would call me impulsive. ;o) I happen to like that about me. What I’m really into right now is veggies. I’m trying to find fresh local and hopefully organic vegetables without paying an arm and a leg. That’s difficult here in Florida, unless I want to live off of oranges and strawberries. I’ve discovered a farm up on the Northside and I’m trying to weigh which is more important, local or organic? I can get organic produce from Venezuela which was probably nutritious a week ago or produce from the same state with lots of nutrients (and taste), that has used pesticides. I can also grow my own, but I’m just not there yet. As far as meat is concerned, I’m gonna have to buy in bulk and not from the grocery store in order to go organic. For one, because it is too expensive at the grocery store and two because it’s the worst cuts of meat. That decision will come later. What I really need is a working oven! I’m threatening to stop cooking until Jason fixes it. Hey, I could eat Beef’s five nights a week. ;o)