Friday, December 31, 2010


Preservatives are needed in products to prolong shelf-life and taste. They also prevent botulism, mold, and bacteria, which protects us from illness. Unfortunately, preservatives can also cause cancers, hyperactivity, nervous system damage, and other problems. Many studies give massive amounts of preservatives in animal studies, and preservatives are typically only found in small amount in commercial products. However, I feel it safe to say that we do not know how much it takes to cause damage. How much is safe?

Sodium Benozate—can cause damage in the cell mitochondria, leading to neurodegenerative diseases. It has been linked to hyperactivity as well. Use of nitrates is highly restricted in some countries.

Sodium nitrate—has been linked to pancreatic and lung cancers, according to a study done by the US National Toxicology Program. Sodium nitrate used as a curing agent in many packaged meats.

Propyl gallate—can cause prostate inflammation and tumors of the thyroid, brain, and pancrease. It is used as a stabilizer in packaged meats, dried milk, candy, potato chips, and baked goods. It is also found in cosmetics and pharmaceuticals.

Potassium bromate—has been found to cause cancerous kidney and thyroid tumors in rats. It has been banned in Britain and Canada as a carcinogen. It is often used by bread companies to strengthen the bread dough.

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Sulphur dioxide and sulfites—destroy vitamin B1, are linked to hyperactivity, and can cause severe reactions such as in asthmatics. Sulfites often cause headache, and have caused at least 12 known deaths. Sulphur dioxide is derived from coal tar. It is found in alcoholic, fruit, and soft drinks, as well as dried fruits and vegetables. Almost all wines contain sulfites.

BHA and BHT—have characteristics making them carcinogenic and can cause tumors. Adverse reactions are common. BHT is banned in Japan, Romania, Sweden, and Australia. BHA is banned in Japan, too. Both are derived from petroleum. These are considered two of the most dangerous preservatives. They are used in fats and oils so they are found in snacks, cereals, instant spuds, soft drinks, and margarine.

Sodium citrate—can cause bladder tumors in very large amounts. It is used in meat and baby food and personal care products.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Coconut oil frosting recipe

For Caitlin's birthday, I made her a cake. Yes, I let her have real cake. Yes, it was the first time I think she had dessert. Babysteps, remember? When trying to find a recipe for more "natural" frostings, I wondered if there was a recipe using coconut oil as the base. I knew I did not want to use Crisco, splenda, or even some of the "healthy" alternatives like agave nectar. I wanted basic ingredients, healthy as possible, but tasty. I stumbled across this amazing recipe for frosting. The only downside is that it makes a very small quantity but I kept adding powdered sugar until I had a good consistency and amount.

Here is the recipe from My Petite Chefs:

¼ cup organic, virgin, unprocessed coconut oil (I like Nutiva)

16 oz powdered sugar

½ cup cocoa powder (I substituted more sugar because I needed white frosting)

1 tsp vanilla extract (I used very non-organic clear vanilla extract again so it was white)

¼ cup cream (added 1-2 TBS at a time)
Cream coconut oil. Add powdered sugar and/or cocoa powder to coconut oil. Slowly add cream to coconut oil mixture.

Happy Birthday, little man!

Monday, December 27, 2010

Vitamin D

We need at least 30 ng/mL of vitamin D to have sufficient levels for bone health. Levels between 20 and 29 ng/mL signal an insufficiency; levels below 20, a deficiency. According to an analysis of government data of kids ages 1 to 21, about 7.6 million are D deficient and another 51 million have insufficient levels. At least 10 percent of U.S. adults are D deficient, too, according to a recent study in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. (Other studies put the number as high as 75 percent)…Earlier this year, researchers in Japan reported that schoolchildren taking a daily supplement of 1200 IU of vitamin D reduced their rate of influenza by almost half…Cancer may be vitamin D-sensitive, too.
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Salmon, cooked 3.5 oz 360 IU

Sardines, canned 250 IU

Shitake mushrooms, 4 mushrooms 249 IU

Tuna, canned in oil 200 IU

D-fortified cheese, 3 oz 180 IU

Fortified milk, 8 oz 100 IU

Fortified orange juice 100 IU

The benefits of vitamin D are not widely disputed. However, the feasibility of getting enough vitamin D is controversial. Sun-activated vitamin D lasts twice as long. However, we’re approaching colder temperatures and less sunlight for the next several months. Many experts do not advocate beneficial sun exposure. As we have mentioned before, there are not many foods that contain large amounts of vitamin D. Our family has just recently started supplementing with vitamin D drops. The D3 form is the more active form and more effective at raising blood levels that D2.  My favorite drops are Carlson brand drops.  The only ingredient is Vitamin D3 and coconut oil.  They make an adult and baby version.  One bottle is a year's supply, and they are absolutely tasteless.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Product Review: Boon Duck

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Bath toys are one of those things that annoy me so much that I pretend it really does not annoy me because if I was honest with myself it would drive me crazy! Can/do kids get sick from sticking bath toys in their mouth or drinking the bath water?? Probably. One of my babysteps is to replace all of their bath toys with easy to clean, hard to mildew toys. So for their birthdays and Christmas stockings I have been slowly adding better bath toys, and I plan to throw out most of their current, likely mildew infested toys.
One of the big hits has been Caitlin’s Boon Duck: Jane. Kai is also getting a Boon Duck in his stocking. These ducks are great because they do not fill up with water. Yes, that takes the fun out of squirting water, but I do not have to worry about them squirting the yucky water in their mouths. Both kids just have a crazy affinity for swimming around with the duck head in their mouths. These ducks float upright, have cool designs, and are very easy to clean. You don’t want to know how I clean them. The word has Ble**h in it.
I am also putting the Boon net in Caitlin's stocking. Now, on to figuring out how to keep them from plain out drinking the bath water…

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Gluten-free diets are becoming more and more popular and not just for people with celiac disease. Gluten is a protein found in the seeds of certain plants, mostly grains. It gives kneaded dough its elasticity, allows leavening, and contributes to the breads chewiness.  However, in people with celiac disease, gluten can damage the lining of he small intestions.  It affects the absorbtion of foods and can cause severe GI distress, weight loss, diarrhea, and anemia.  Going gluten-free may also have a benefit in a number of other conditions, everything from autism to rheumatoid arthritis to diabetes.  Several leading health experts are recommending gluten-free alternatives for everyone.  Giving up gluten does tend to cut out a lot of junk food, decrease sugar and fat intake, and remove over-processed starches from your diet.  Unless you have celiac disease, you don't have to worry about little things like soy sauce but if you avoid major red flags in the gluten-free diet you may feel better.  Some proponents of the gluten-free diet do advise cutting out all sources of gluten for 30 days and say that any gluten can last for up to 2 weeks in your body.  I think the jury is still out but I am interested to learn more about this topic.

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Gluten-containing grains and products to be avoided:

o Barley

o Bulgar

o Cereal binding

o Couscous

o Graham flour

o Kamut

o Malt and malt extract, flavoring, syrup

o Oat bran

o Oats

o Rye

o Semolina

o Spelt

o What and what bran, germ, starch

Common foods containing gluten:

o Breads

o Rolls

o Biscuits

o Croissants

o Doughnuts

o Flour tortillas

o Chicken nuggets

o Croutons

o Breaded fish

o Hamburger buns

o Waffles

o Bagels

o Ice cream cones

o Pastas

o Fried vegetables

o Graham crackers

o Crackers

o Pita bread

o Pretzels

o Corn bread

o French fries

o Toast

o Stuffing

o Cereals

o Pizza

o Cookies

o Pies

o Cakes

o Pastries

o Cupcakes

Foods with Hidden Gluten:

o Alcohol products made from grains

o Lunch meats, cold cuts

o Hot dogs

o Hamburgers

o Frozen dinners

o Soy sauce

o Pickles

o Salad dressings

o Canned baked beans

o Conventional yogurt

o Non-dairy creamer

o Syrups

o Root beer

o Gum

o Instant coffee

Key nutrients commonly found to be deficient in those with gluten sensitivities:

o Vitamin B12

o Folic acid

o Iron

o Calcium

o Vitamin D

o Riboflavin

o Thiamin

o Niacin

o Vitamin B6

o Fiber

Grains Allowed in a Gluten-free diet:

o Amaranth

o Arrowroot

o Bean flours

o Buckwheat

o Corn

o Millet

o Nut flours

o Potato

o Quinoa

o Rice

o Soy

o Sorghum

o Tapioca

Monday, December 20, 2010

Three steps forward, one step back

I thought about titling this "Shh! Don't Tell" but I realize that would generate some rumors flying about me being pregnant or something (I am Not!). I do have a dirty little secret. I stopped using baking soda and apple cider vinegar on my hair. "You lasted THIS long??" "Thank goodness, you have some common sense." I am sure that is what some of you are thinking.

Baking soda and apple cider vinegar are actually supposed to be very mild ingredients to use on your hair to get away from needing to shampoo every day (stripping natural oil from your hair) and from the chemicals (some possible carcinogenic) in shampoo especially. I do a lot of reading of other natural/health-centered blogs, and this is actually pretty common among those "treehuggers" as my husband's manager now refers to me. I am probably one of the least tree-hugging people I know, but I would like to avoid unnecessary, harm, and possibly dangerous chemicals.

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Well, the baking soda and vinegar just was not cutting it. I did it long enough to get through any adjustment phase, and my hair still was very different. It works for a LOT of people (even Lee did notice much of a difference) but it depends a lot on hair type and texture. I decided to go back to an organic brand of shampoo that was not crazy expensive but did not have most of the chemicals I was trying to avoid. I tried Kiss My Face the Whenever line. Giovanni was also on sale so I stocked up on it too. Both of these are fairly safe. Kiss My Face scores a 3 on the Skin Deep Cosmetic Database . It has one ingredient (cocamidopropyl betaine) that scores a 5, and the majority score 0-1. Giovanni scores 2-5.
I love that I have probably spent a total of $8 on hair products in the last 8 months between Lee and myself. I hate that it made my hair feel so rough. I absolutely love the way my new shampoo made my hair feel. It was instant bliss to which only another woman can relate. I hate that it cost $8, just for the shampoo (Lee WILL flip when he reads this). I love that taking babysteps sometimes mean that you still take steps forward even if you have to backstep for a moment.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Christmas ornaments

My friend, Raegan, gave me a great idea for a craft idea for kids. Guess what?! The ingredients are all natural and can be entirely organic. I would say they are non-toxic but I suppose if you ingested several of them, a cup of cinnamon could be toxic. I did not buy organic cinnamon and organic applesauce, but there was no funky “Crayola” or “Playdough” smell. My friend did give me a really good safety tip. Start slow with the cinnamon. Her daughter apparently had a sensitivity to cinnamon and Kai’s hands were a bit red in places where the dough had been sitting in his skin for awhile. Cinnamon is an herb with potent uses so it would be prudent to either test it in a small spot or wash hands quickly.

Here’s the idea:

Mix 1 cup applesauce with 1 cup cinnamon. Mix into a paste and roll out to desired thickness. Use cookie cutters to cut ornament shapes. Use a straw to poke holes in each ornament for stringing. Bake at 225 degrees for 1 hour or let air dry for 3-4 days.

It was a little tricky transferring the “dough” to a cookie sheet. I finally discovered that it worked best to press down on the cookie cutter while sliding a spatula under it, and then sliding the cookie cutter off the spatula onto the cookie sheet. I also forgot to spray the aluminum foil so I was very carefully peeling it off the back of the ornaments. The ornaments were still a little soft after 1 hour of baking but I did not want to over do it so I flipped them over on my stove to finish air drying. One or two were too thin and cracked but the rest of them look beautiful and smell amazing!! I also added some nutmeg and clove powder to the mix. This was a perfect activity for little hands!!

Friday, December 17, 2010

Format change

This is your chance to impact this blog!  Take a second to let me know what you like, dislike, or want to hear about.  I am going to be spreading the posts out over the Holidays and changing the format slightly.  I would love to hear your ideas.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Eating Organic

I was asked to write a guest post about eating organic for one of my favorite mommy blogs. Valerie is one of the wisest moms I know. Child rearing comes so naturally to her so she has written a blog based on a book called Babywise. She recently asked if I would contribute a post on some of the babysteps we have taken. Here is an excerpt:

I did not grow up eating organic. I especially did not eat organic or sometimes even relatively healthy particularly in the early years of my marriage. There were many nights we just ate a box of angel hair pasta buttered with Country Crock. Sometimes it was burritos with canned refried beans. Oh, the memories!

It really was not until after I had my second child that I truly started paying more attention to what we were eating. Even with my son, my first child, I thought we ate pretty healthy. While I was pregnant with my daughter, I kept hearing more and more about a book called the Makers Diet. I actually heard about it from two good friends in a Babywise group on BabyCenter. It was written by Jordan Rubin, and it focuses on eating whole foods, organic if possible, in the best form possible. What intrigued me the most was the results my friends saw after changing their ways of life (it is much more than a diet!). One friend was relieved of her migraines and lost weight even though it was not planned, and her husband regained his sense of smell and was cured of insomnia. The other friend was cured of severe, unrelenting, disabling GI distress. I too struggled with severe chronic insomnia so I was captivated.

Check out Val’s blog to read the entire post:

Monday, December 13, 2010

Makers Diet: Grass-fed beef

Grass-fed organic beef is not always affordable for our family. I am really trying to incorporate it as much as I can but often it is only organic ground beef that I buy. Jordan Rubin is a huge proponent of grass fed organic beef as are many health experts. My ultimate goal is to eat primarily organic meat but it will be awhile before we get there. A 2009 study between the USDA and researchers at Clemson University in South Carolina (Go TIGERS!) found many reasons that grass-fed beef is better than grain-fed. Here is their analysis:

o Lower in fat

o Higher in beta-carotene

o Higher in vitamin E (alpha-tocopherol)

o Higher in the B-vitamins thiamin and riboflavin

o Higher in the minerals calcium, magnesium, and potassium

o Higher in total omega-3s

o A healthier ratio of omega-6s to omega-3 fatty acids (1.65 to 4.84)

o Higher in CLA (cis-9 trans-11), a potential cancer fighter

o Higher in vaccenic acid (which can be transformed into CLA)

o Lower in the saturated fats linked with heart disease.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Know Your Ingredients #14

Salt, hydrolyzed vegetable protein, sugar, monosodium glutamate, dehydrated onion, maltodextrin, dextrin (with beef extract and partially hydrogenated soybean oil), caramel color, autolyzed yeast, corn oil, dry malt syrup, disodium inosinate, disodium guanylate, natural flavoring, not more than 2% silicon dioxide added as an anticaking agent

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Babysteps: Cutting out more sugar

This is going to break my heart, and possibly the hearts of those that love me the most.  I have a very soft spot in my heart for Peeps and candy corn…and dark chocolate.  Now we all know dark chocolate is healthy for you so there’s no way I am giving it up, but I have to take another step.  This is not a babystep…this is a HUGE step.  I still cannot even believe that I am doing this…giving up my candy corn and peeps.  Not just peeps, but stale, chewy, yummy peeps.  No more chicks, bunnies, orange peeps, pink peeps.  To everyone that sends me peeps and candy corn for my birthday…and Easter…and Christmas—you have to stop. 

My  new goals is to cut out close to 90% of my processed sugar and candy intake, and the peeps and candy corn not only put me in a sugar slump but put me about 110% over my goal.  The week before Halloween is when I started this…NOT good timing…
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Monday, December 6, 2010

Makers Diet: Fermented beverages

Jordan Rubin writes a lot about fermented foods and beverages in his books. To be honest, I do not completely understand the fermentation process and all of the advantages. I still have a lot to learn. What I do know is that fermentation is a method of preservation and it helps enzymes and nutrients to be released and absorbed. I cannot say that I am completely sold on many of the food recipes, but I actually enjoy two fermented beverages. Kombucha and kefir.

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Kombucha is basically black tea, sugar, and a “mother” culture or mushroom. The culture is a blend of bacteria and yeast that ferments with the tea and sugar. The end result is full of probiotics and B vitamins. It is very fizzy and has a slightly sour but sweet taste. There are several well-known brands and even recipes to brew your own. If you find yourself at a nearby health food store, try a bottle and see what you think. It is supposed to have many more health benefits than I have named here.

Kefir is a fermented milk drink made from kefir grains (mixture of bacteria, yeast, proteins, fats, and sugars) in any kind of milk—cow, goat, coconut. It can be easily made at home with kefir grains starter kits. It is widely available at most health food stores and costs about the same as goats milk and slightly more expensive than organic whole milk. Kefir contains a ton of probiotics as well as folic acid. Many people who are lactose intolerant are able to drink kefir without any side effects. Kefir is like a slightly sour, drinkable yogurt. There are many flavored varieties but check the sugar content.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Know Your Ingredients #13

Tomotoes with tomato puree, cooked macaroni product, tomotoes, tomato puree, dry curd cottage cheese, onions, beef, mushrooms, low-mositure parti-skim mozzarella cheese, corn syrup, modified cornstarch, barlic, tomato paste, enriched wheat flour, parmesan cheese, salt, spices, Romano cheese (made from cow's milk), hydrolyzed vegetable protein and autolyzed yeast extract, corn oil, sugar, xanthan gum, dehydrated onions, erythorbic acid, caramel coloring, dried beef stock, natural flavorings

Friday, December 3, 2010

Product Review: Ladder Hill Update

Ladder Hill Tinkle Time Trainer Update: So the designer remade two of the trainers with a bamboo velour on the inside. It is definitely much more absorbent than the cuddle fleece that was previously used. It is much softer, and it seems to absorb all over inside of spots.

I still prefer to stuff the trainers that have snaps vs. pullup style, and we have not had leaks yet with either style. We have not used these heavily since we have a decent rotation going. The only other recommendation I would make is to sew a stitch all the way down the insert to keep it from bunching at the end. The doublers tend to bunch/curl on the outside as well, but I’m really not sure how to prevent that.

Our leaks seem to have decreased, but we are also using 3 inserts in almost every trainer. Kai is starting to wake up dry more and more often so that is a good thing!

Overall: 8—I would say that I am pretty happy with these. They don’t seem to be leaking quite as much as when we first started using them, but two have different fabric now. We are also adding an extra doubler. I really appreciate the help from the designer. I feel better about recommending trainers with the new bamboo velour.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Babysteps: Calcium

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One of my goals is to increase my calcium intake. We know how important calcium is but for years I thought I was lactose intolerant and rarely if ever drank milk. Now I have switched to whole milk and can drink it without any problems whatsoever. It’s also non-homogenized, organic, hormone-free, antibiotic-free, and very easy to digest. I still have to work to make sure I get enough calcium. After two pregnancies and nursing, I’m sure my bones have taken a beating. I have even looked into calcium supplements, but I’m really only interested in whole food supplements (see previous post). The downside is that calcium is not easy to condense, and when you take whole food supplements, it’s even harder to condense it. I’m really not interested in take 5-6 pills a day of just calcium.

Here are some other ways you and I can both get our calcium:

Yogurt: one cup = 448 mg

Cow’s milk: one cup = 297 mg

Swiss cheese: one ounce = 270 mg

Spinach, cooked: one cup = 260 mg

Collard greens, cook: one cup = 226 mg

Mozzarella cheese, shredded: one cup = 184 mg

Almonds: two ounces = 150 mg

Black beans, cooked: one cup = 120 mg

Orange: one = 53 mg

Almond butter: 1 tablespoon = 43 mg

Monday, November 29, 2010

Makers Diet: Whole Food

You have heard me talk about whole foods, particularly concerning supplements. Why whole foods? Here is an excerpt from Extraordinary Health, Jordan Rubin’s new health magazine published monthly by Garden of Life, Inc.:

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We all know that one of the key nutrients provided by an orange is vitamin C. The health benefits of vitamin C have been promoted for decades. Vitamin C is so important that hundreds of companies now manufacture vitamin C to their food products. That seems like a good thing. In fact it is a huge mistake.

An orange contains so much more than vitamin C. It contains hundreds of nutrients, minerals, and phyto-chemicals. These co-factors work synergistically with each other. Without them vitamin C is not nearly as effective. Vitamin C needs all of these other beneficial compounds in order to work as effectively as possible. When you isolate vitamin C from all of the other nutrients in an orange you severely limit its potency.

This is the basis for whole food nutrition. Food consumed in a state as near to nature as possible is far healthier than food that has been processed, isolated and fractionated into its individual nutrients.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Know Your Ingredients Answer #12

Campbell's Healthy Request Cream of Mushroom Soup (99% Fat Free, 1/3 less salt, low cholesterol, 60 calories, no MSG)

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Know Your Ingredients #12

Water, mushrooms, modified food starch, cream, corn starch, vegetable oil (corn, cottonseed or partially hydrogenated soybean oil), wheat flour, sugar, salt, whey protein concentrate, potassium chlirde, spice extracts, disodium inosinate, disodium guanylate, maltodextrin, dehydrated garlic, mushroom powder, and calcium lactate

Friday, November 26, 2010

Product Review: SuperUndies cloth trainers

After all of our leaks with Ladder Hill Tinkle Time Trainers, I decided to try one other brand that seemed to be made specifically for overnight use. Super Undies makes daytime trainers but they also make a Super Undies Nighttime Underwear. Their website says “Most children have 100% success of non-leaking with these.” What??? Most everything else says not intended for naps or nighttime. Even better, these come with a 14 day guarantee. The only thing that kept me from ordering several was the cost. In the end I decided to try one and if they were as good as I was reading, I would save up for more or sell some other trainers.
These are pullup style, which are harder to stuff but leak less if they are pockets, but these only have a short pocket to stuff. The soaker is like an insert and doubler in one that is sewn in so you never have to search for it after doing the laundry. That amazing thing is that it agitates out of the short pocket in the wash so you don’t have to worry about unstuffing it before washing it!! Yes, I know only another cloth diapering mom really cares what I’m saying!

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More about the design…the inside pocket is soft and stretchy lycra. The only disadvantage is that sometimes that area of the trainer takes a little longer to dry but not much. There is a 3-layer soaker built in under the lycra, then the additional 6-layer soaker is sewn into the back and tucked into the short pocket. The front pocket also allows more absorbancy to be added if needed.

More about the use…these have been bullet-proof. We haven’t used them every night because I only have one for him, and we also have a large rotation of other trainers. We have not had a single leak after about 6 uses, though. Super Undies come with all sorts of recommendations about how to improve absorbance if you experience leaks and other reasons for leaks. They are very upfront about helping solve any issues. I feel like a I can’t go wrong if we run into issues.

Efficiency: 10—We have not had any leaks!! These are soooo easy to prepare after they are washed and dried, and they take about 3 seconds to put on. They are not puffy whatsoever, no gaps around the legs, and extremely soft feeling. I love, love, love that the soaker pad is sewn in (I am a big all in one fan) and takes 2 seconds to stuff. It’s really not like anything else I have seen. I hope to add more of these to our trainer stash!!!

Green: 9.5—No more pullups. These are so well made that as long as C doesn’t mind rocket ships they will absolutely last for 2 kids. The only downside is they take a little longer to dry since they are like a combination of an AIO and a pocket. I’m thinking a few more wool dryer balls and will help. I also noticed that I missed that you are supposed to turn it inside out to wash. This almost always helps with drying so I might have to go back and change this to a 10!

Cost: 7—I think $30 is high for a trainer. It is built for overnight, but if they were priced lower I would definitely have bought more of them. It takes a lot of pullups to equal the cost of one trainer so that might deter someone who is interested in saving money more so than being eco-friendly. I think we will get our money’s worth, but these are one of the most expensive trainers that I have come across.

Overall: 9—These are my favorite trainers so far. I like ones that snap because Kai loves unsnapping them but these are easy for him to pull off, too. They have not leaked, and they are so soft and comfortable looking. The fleece has elastic built in so there are no gaps, and these fit perfectly. Again, I can’t say enough how much I love the built in/sewn in soakers. The lycra makes it super simple to stuff (no pulling, tugging, twisting), and there is plenty of room to add another insert if needed. I would definitely recommend saving up for one or a bunch of these!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Babysteps: Fever

I work in a hospital. I am surrounded by conventional medicine. Have a headache? Take some Motrin. Congested? Take some Pseudophed. Have a runny nose and sore throat? Go to the doctor. Get a flu shot? Take some Tylenol. Have an infection? Take 3 antibiotics and 2 nasal sprays.

Well, I am a pretty unconventional pharmacist…and I am becoming even more unconventional sometimes by the day. I no longer treat every fever in my children. I hesitate to take them to the doctor unless I am pretty certain they have more than a virus. I do not let them get Tylenol with their shots anymore. I usually only opt for required vaccines. I only give dye-free pain medications with as few preservatives as possible. I only give whole food vitamins and supplements. (Have you looked at the ingredients in Mylicon? Grape Tylenol? Gummy Vitamins??).

Let’s talk about fevers first. Fever is actually our body’s backup defense mechanism. It is a healthy response to infection, and it serves to help kill invading organisms. Many microbes cannot live in elevated temperatures. It also stimulates our immune system to fight the infection. The best course of action is to let fever run its course.

I am not advocating to never treat a fever, but I am suggesting that you do no treat a fever immediately unless it rises very high, very fast. There are a few other times treatment is warranted:
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o Infants less than 1 month old—always seek care immediately for temperatures greater than 100.4 degrees.
o Infants 1 month to 3 months old—seek care for temperatures greater than 100.4 degrees
o Children 3 months to 36 months—seek care for temperatures greater than 102.2 degrees
o All ages—temperatures over 104.5 degrees

Usually I only treat fever over 101-103 if they appear ill or are obviously uncomfortable. With two children under the age of 3 around other children, in the church nursery, at mother’s morning out, with a mom that works in healthcare, we are bound to get infections. Most of them are viral and run their course in 5 days. There is a recent study that even suggested giving Tylenol before vaccines can interfere with immune response. Next time you have a fever, think about letting it last a little bit longer to do its job.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Makers Diet: Probiotics

One of the keys behind the Makers Diet is that extraordinary health starts with the gut. An estimated 90% of illnesses emanate in the gut and 50-80% of our immune and nervous system is there. Jordan Rubin and other health experts state that the ratio of good bacterial flora (probiotics) in our gut to bad bacteria should be 80% to 20% but that this ratio is reversed for many of us.

Some ways to introduce the beneficial bacteria and re-establish the right ratio include eating foods high in probiotics, such as yogurt, kefir (like a thick, drinkable yogurt), sauerkraut, lacto-fermented foods, real apple cider vinegar, miso, and natto.
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Another way is to supplement. I am a big fan of probiotic supplements. After I had Caitlin, I started to suspect that she had reflux. After a lot of research I found some enlightening news that suggested probiotics could help. I started taking them myself since I was nursing and debated about giving them directly to her. Her reflux symptoms were much better controlled. We had made a few other changes so I wasn’t really sure if the probiotics helped. When I ran out I stopped taking them and within 24 hours her symptoms flared again. Since then she and I have been taking them and have also experience less cold symptoms than Kai and Lee. Recently I started giving them to Kai, and yesterday Lee started taking “purple vitamins.”

My favorite and extensively researched brands are Garden of Life Primal Defense, Nature’s Plus Animal Parade Acidophikidz, and Udo’s Infant Probiotic. All include high cell counts of live bacteria and multiple strains. The first two products are shelf stable (do not have to be refrigerated). It’s hard to compare different brands because they all contain different bacteria, and almost every probiotic study uses different strains. However, I have seen personal benefits in my own self and my family with all of these products!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Know Your Ingredients #11

Beef stock, carrots, tomoatoes, potatoes, celery, peas, zucchini, green beans, cabbage, water, modified food starch, spinach, salt, vegetable oil (corn, cottonseed or partially hydrogenated soybean

Friday, November 19, 2010

Product Review: Ladder Hill Tinkle Time Trainers

The first trainer that I decided to try is from Ladder Hill Designs. Hope has a licensed pattern called the Tinkle Time Trainer. One of the best things about working with Hope is that she does customs!!!! This means that you get to pick out the fabric and customize the trainer (I can see my husband rolling his eyes and trying not to sigh). This means you can get your toddler much more excited about his new "underwear" and make potty training even more successful. Now Kai may have gotten just as excited about blue or green pull-ups but he truly loves and brags about keeping his firetruck, turtle, etc. trainers dry. The other amazing thing about working with Hope is that she asked me for Kai's measurements and then told me exactly which size would work best.

I LOVE these trainers. They look so "handsome" and they are extremely well-made. The stitching looked very professional and I was very impressed by the style. You can customize them to be "pull-up" style like regular underwear or get them with snaps on the front. I still can't decide which style I like better. I got 3 of each. The pull-ups do a much better job at preventing leaks. The snap trainers are MUCH easier to stuff.

Both styles come with a pocket opening in the back to stuff either a prefold (think Gerber cloth diaper tri-folded but better quality) or you can order the inserts that Hope sells to go with them. The insert is wider, and if you order a doubler (smaller, to increase absorbancy) it comes with snaps to snap on top of the insert. The pull-up style then has a small opening at the front to help pull the insert into the trainer (the snap version does not have nor does it need this extra opening—super easy to stuff).

I really cannot say enough about how much I love the design. The only problems we have had are with leaks. Again, Hope has been a blessing to work with. I cannot say our problem is entirely solved, but her communication and offer to help has been amazing. She has even agreed to replace two of the trainers with a different fabric to see if it helps with the absorbancy issues.

Some things I have tried to prevent leaks by stripping them in hot water to be certain that there was no buildup of detergent or fabric softener (which we do not use anymore on even regular laundry), add another doubler outside of the pocket, and making sure that little boy parts are pointing down.

Some days we have leaks and some days we do not. Some days the trainers are completely dry so it's hard to tell if they would have leaked. Some days the trainer is just super saturated. Other days it seems like they could be more absorbent.

I still think these are well made. I know Hope is now using a different fabric on all of her trainers so I will give an update when I get two of them back. It’s hard to troubleshoot because Kai is starting to wake up dry more often, and we also have 6 different trainers in 2 different designs.

Efficiency: 6—I would rank this much higher if I was certain it we had not had so many problems with leaks. There were days when we had to wash sheets twice a day, and I wasn’t expecting to have issues with leaks from the get go. The issue does seem to be absorbancy related at times when it’s not very saturated, but adding a doubler outside of the pocket seems to help. Some of the leg openings have stretched and aren’t tight. One has elastic, but the others do not. Some are nice and tight but others leave a little gap. All are supposed to be the same size.

Green: 8—I would have said a 10 without all of the extra washes we did after leaks, but all of the troubleshooting and extra work involved factored in a bit.

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Cost: 8—These cost about $15-18, which is comparable to other trainers, but then the inserts and doublers are in addition. With an insert and a doubler inside the pocket and another doubler outside of the pocket, the cost does add up. For offering to replace two of them with a different inner fabric that were leaking the worst, I give a lot of respect to the designer!!  Still less than disposable pullups!!!

Overall: 7—I love the look of these trainers, but I wish we had not had so much trouble with leaks. I like that they are thick but not puffy under pajamas. I don’t like having to use two doublers but I am glad that it seems to be working. I wish the fleece on the inside didn’t seem to only absorb in spots. The fleece around the legs seems to be loosening, but it does not seem to make leaks worse at this point. They are extremely well made, and I think the new material will increase efficiency.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Babysteps: Wool dryer balls

Something else that I have gotten rid of in our house is fabric softener sheets. If you google fabric softener sheets you will see claims of everything from cancer-containing ingredients to disease-worsening fragrances to waxy buildup. One of the biggest reasons I could not use them is they can leave build-up and residue on cloth diapers even if used only on regular laundry. I don’t like the idea of anything leaving a film or residue on my clothes so I finally just threw the rest of the box away without even using it up.

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Instead, we have started using wool dyer balls. I love mine so much that I decided to start making and selling them. I’ll probably make a total of $6 of off them, but they are fun! I can tell the biggest difference in drying time with the cloth diapers, especially the thick inserts for Kai’s trainers. If I don’t put the dryer balls in, everything is still damp afterwards.

These can be used over and over again instead of dryer sheets, plastic PVC balls, or chemical additives. They are an excellent green alternative to chemical-laden fabric sheets! Best of all they are money saving!! Safe for cloth diapers. Will not bleed.

Wool absorbs moisture and cuts down on drying time, often cuts times in half. The bouncing around of the balls increases air circulation, softens laundry and reduces wrinkles, as well as static. Lint and pet hair sticks to the balls.

The more you add the shorter your drying time. It is recommended to use 2-6 balls for a normal-sized load. For synthetic fibers, at least 4 balls are recommended. For large loads, at least 6 balls are recommended. By using 4 or more, drying time is usually reduced 20-50%, depending on the size of the load. If dryer balls start to pill, you can use a sweater shaver or leave them natural. Pilling may actually help the balls work better.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Makers Diet: Supplements

One of the drawbacks of the Makers Diet and GPRx books is that the Garden of Life supplements that are touted were developed by Jordan Rubin. Several people I know have been turned off from the MD for that reason. Anytime you see someone making money off making money (selling a book selling his products) it raises a red flag. It definitely made me question some of his information as well.
I did a lot of research comparing Garden of Life (GOL) products to other similar whole food supplements. I definitely think Jordan Rubin has made a lot of money (A LOT) from advertising his own products. However, I really do think they are some of the best products on the market.

GOL are leading whole food supplements sold in over 12,000 stores nationwide. They have made Entrepreneur Magazine and Inc. 500 lists of fastest growing privately held companies. Jordan Rubin has appeared on Good Morning America, NBC Nightly News, FOX news, Inside Edition, and the Food Network. His story has been featured in Time, Newsweek, The New York Times, Reader’s Digest, People, Woman’s World, Women’s Health, and O (Oprah) Magazine. He has authored over 20 books.

No, fame does not mean that his supplements are gold, but his message has inspired thousands. It’s hard to ignore his supplements when his story is so well known. Now his supplements are starting to gain recognition as well. They are some of the best-selling on the market, and I challenge you do to your own review of them. I have decided that whole food supplements are the way to go, and Jordan Rubin goes into a lot of depth in his books explaining why he has developed them this way…in whole foods so that our bodies can actually absorb them. You cannot synthetically derive Vitamin C in a laboratory and dump it into your body and expect your body to utilize it the same way as when you extract it from whole foods along with other important co-nutrients that aid in its absorption and utilization.

My favorite products so far are Primal Defense (probiotic) and RAW ONE vitamins. I would like to look into CODmega or Oceans 3, RAW Vitamin D3, RAW calcium, and RAW Kombucha. Vitacost has a great comparative feature where you can see side-to-side profiles of different brands of whole food supplements by best seller, price, or reviews.

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Saturday, November 13, 2010

Know Your Ingredients #10

Enriched wheat flour (wheat flour, niacin, reduced iron, thiamine mononitrate, riboflavin), partially hydrogenated cottonseed oil, dehydrated vegetables (green pea, carrot, green bean), salt, freeze dried chicken, whey, buttermilk, nondairy creamer (corn syrup solids, partially hydrogenated soybean oil, whey, sodium caseinate, sugar, dipotassium phophate, mono- and diglycerides), butter powder, hydrolyzed vegetable proteins, monosodium glutamate, xanthan gum, onion powder, cheddar cheese powder, chicken fat, natural flavors, soy sauce powder, garlic powder, spices, potassium carbonate, sodium carbonate, sugar, carrot and turmeric oleoresins as color, sodium alginate, disodium guanylate, disodium inosinate, sodium tripolyphosphate, citric acid, tocopherols, sodium citrate and sodium sulfite to preserve freshness

Friday, November 12, 2010

Product Review: Trainers

We made the transition to cloth diapers for Caitlin without much trouble. In fact, I loved them. They make disposable diapers feel so scratchy and paper like. I felt really good about our decision, but I was not sure what to do about Kai. He was starting to potty train so I knew our cost would go down substantially once he was day trained. However, I expected him to need some sort of diaper or pull-up for naps and nighttimes for quite awhile. That has been an accurate assessment. Some days he wakes up dry and sometimes he goes days in between.

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I finally felt convicted enough that once he ran out of the diapers I had stocked up with coupons and sales we would switch to cloth trainers. I had already decided not to do disposable pullups for the expense but mostly due to the fact that he could tell a huge difference between underwear and diapers. I just think pullups are too much like diapers. So I went on a search for cloth trainers.

My biggest frustration was that most trainers were for "one accident" or just daytime use. They are not intended for nighttime or even naps due to the strong tendency that toddlers are "heavy wetters." I must have looked at 20 brands…pocket trainers (like a pull-up but need to be "stuffed"), all in ones (AIO, but likely not absorbent enough), snaps in the front, pull up style without snaps, snaps in the back, snaps on the side, pockets of all shapes and sizes. The other frustration is that while you do not need nearly as many trainers compared to diapers the trainers usually run $15-30 each.

The next two reviews I will look at two of the different trainers that are our favorites. Some of the other brands you may want to look at…Happy Heiney's (heard from many moms that these are puffy and don't always fit great), Snap EZ, and Tot Wraps (found on Hyenacart).

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Babysteps: Face wash

When I ran out of my Aveeno face wash, which I previously thought was so "healthy," I decided I was going to find a safer and more natural cleanser. I started hearing about other people using honey as a cleanser/face wash. I have always heard of honey having many health benefits, but I had never heard of topical uses.

Honey is antibacterial in nature and can even help heal skin burns. People with acne and other skin inflammation say it clears their skin up immediately. It has a semi-acidic pH and glycolic acid, which is also supposed to be good for your skin. You can add brown sugar or oat flour to use it as an exfoliant.

I have not been using it long but I already love this. My skin is not oily at oil, and it washes off very easily with warm water. I would recommend raw honey. It has not been filtered or pasteurized so it contains the most enzymes and nutrients.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Makers Diet: Sleep

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One of the principles by Jordan Rubin is to get enough sleep. Do you feel rested when you get up? I know I often do not. Not getting enough sleep or the right kind of sleep can weaken your immune system, cause weight gain, impair your memory, impair physical tasks, accelerate tumor growth, worsen medical conditions, increase depression, and possibly even lead to premature aging.

Dr. Mercola is another huge proponent of sleep. He wrote a great article with 33 tips to a good night sleep. Here are a few of my favorites:

1. Sleep in complete darkness, or as close to it as possible. This is so true. We noticed a dramatic difference in our baby’s sleep when we put up room darkening shades in his room for the first time. Our daughter has had them from the start and been an amazing napper. I have even gone in to my son’s room to lay down for a quick snooze.

2. Keep the temperature in your bedroom no higher than 70 degrees F. I am cold. I am always cold. I leave my seat heaters in my car on until July. However, I cannot sleep unless it is cold. I learned this the hard way when we tried to cut our power bill and made it warmer in our house. My insomnia returned with a roaring entrance.

3. Get to bed as early as possible. I remember my dad telling me as a kid that every hour of sleep before midnight is worth 2 hours of sleep after midnight. Scientists really think that is true, and the most important hours to be asleep are between 11 pm and 1 am.

4. Don’t change your bedtime. Go to bed and get up at the same times during the week and the weekend.

5. Avoid before-bed snacks, particularly grains and sugars. These will raise and then lower your blood sugar, often causing waking and the inability to go back to sleep.

6. No TV right before bed. TV disrupts your pineal gland function, according to Dr. Mercola. It is much too stimulating to the brain.

7. Avoid caffeine and alcohol. Caffeine has a very long half-life, and alcohol often keeps you from entering deep sleep.

8. Make certain you are exercising regularly. At least 30 min a day 2 hours or more before bedtime.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Know Your Ingredients Answer #9

Town House Fancy Tomato Catsup

You probably guessed this one, but did you know sugar is the 2nd ingredient?!  About 1/3 of it is sugar.  There are approximately 4 grams in each tablespoon...4 grams = 1 teaspoon of sugar.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Know Your Ingredients #9

Tomatoes, sugar, corn sweetener, vinegar, salt, onion powder, natural flavorings, garlic powder, spices

Friday, November 5, 2010

Product Review: Northern Essence

I am a big fan of coconut for diaper rash. It has wonderful healing properties and usually clears up rashes right away. It can also be safely used with cloth diapers. However, it just was not cutting it with Caitlin’s last diaper rash. It got to the point that I knew something was going to have to be done or else she was going to get skin breakdown. I starting researching other cloth diaper friendly creams. Several of the recommended brands had lanolin or zinc. Both of those are ointment bases and usually are not water soluable. I could not determine if they really rinse out of diapers so I did not want to take the chance. I started seeing several rave reviews for Northern Essence. After looking at their ingredients and testimonials, I ordered some immediately.

I ordered the “All Natural Diaper Salve.”

Our Diaper Rash Salves have always been one of our top sellers around the World and by far a customer favorite for years now! Our Diaper Salves contains only ALL NATURAL ingredients such as Healing Calendula Infused Oil, Therapeutic Meadowfoam oil, Natural Shea & Cocoa Butters, with a blend of beneficial Essential Oils. They contain NO lanolin, petroleum or zinc. We carry our original Diaper Rash Salve and our Sensitive Skin Diaper Rash Salve. For those little bums that are a bit sensitive, we have removed the tea tree & lavender essential oils and added other beneficial essential oils, a clean fresh citrus scent.

I also ordered the “Better Butt(er) Cream.” This stuff is amazing.

Finally a diaper cream that you can use when your baby has a yeast infection, that will NOT irritate it! Safe to use on cloth diapers. Contains no Essential Oils, only conditioning oils and butters including: Hemp Butter, Shea Butter, Meadowfoam Oil and many more. We have added Grapefuit Seed Extract in it, then we triple whip it to give it a fluffy appearance and super smooth texture. Fragrance free.

The diaper salve comes in a push stick to apply directly to baby’s skin. It does have a pretty strong smell, but it works! Her rash was gone in a day. I use this often at night just to prevent rashes. I use the butt(er) cream on top of the salve particularly after a dirty diaper. It seems to allow the salve to work while protecting the skin until the next diaper change. The butt(er) cream is sooooo smooth and creamy. It’s thick without feeling like an ointment. I like that it has no smell and thoroughly protects the skin.

It is recommended to use the products within 6-9 months which should be no problem. Whenever Caitlin has a rash I can use either of these two products and the rash is always gone before the next diaper change. We still use and love coconut oil but both of these products are great for more serious rashes.

Efficiency: 10—Rashes are gone within 1-2 diaper changes. The diaper salve healed areas that were starting to break down.

Green: 10—I felt much more comfortable with these ingredients on my daughter’s skin and they are totally safe on cloth diapers. I love that the butt(er) cream is scentless.

Cost: 10—1 oz push tube $3.95, 2 oz $6.95 for the diaper salve; 2 oz tub $6.95 for the butt(er) cream. Cheaper than triple paste (my old favorite) and same price as boudreax’s butt paste (Lee’s favorite).

Overall: 10—LOVE it. I will get the unscented diaper salve next time, but it works so well.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Babysteps: Cutting out sugar

One of our steps has been to cut out sugar. Ok, well, my step. This has been a blessing and a curse. The more sugar I cut out, the better I feel, but the more I crave it. It is still hard for me not to overindulge, and even small to modest amounts can send me into a downward spiral. The last time I had a coke was over 6 months ago, and I had a migraine for 3 days.

Americans eat an average of 22 teaspoons of sugar a day!! Sugar raises blood pressure, reduces HDL (good cholesterol), raises triglycerides, triggers abnormal insulin surges, and makes us hungry for more. The American Heart Association recommends limiting our intake to 6-10 teaspoons a day. Guess how much a single glass of orange juice contains? The equivalent of 11 teaspoons!!

We all probably know that sugars end in –'ose, but I still get confused about the differences. Basically sucrose comes from sugar cane or sugar beets. Fructose, maltose, and dextrose come from fruits and starchy plants. Lactose comes from dairy products.

The Glycemic Index (GI) ranks how food affects our blood glucose levels. Table sugar (sucrose) has a GI of 60. Eating below a GI of 50 is recommended to control blood sugar naturally.

Fructose (fruit sugars) is commonly thought to be benign since it dose not raise blood glucose levels the way glucose does. However, fructose is converted to triglycerides in the liver (fats associated with heart disease) and interferes with the absorption of minerals.

The good news is that there are some ways to still use sugar. Some are even nutritious to an extent. Here is a review of some of those varieties:

Rapadura—pure juice extracted from sugar cane. It is not cooked at high heats, and it has not been separated from the molasses…so it has more nutrients, vitamins, and minerals. It will not affect your blood sugar as much as a more refined sugar. Many people (like me!) that get headaches with white (refined) sugar can eat rapadura without any problem.

Sucanat—similar to rapadura but the sugar stream and molasses stream are separated from each other during processing and then reblended.

Turbinado, Demarara, and “Organic Raw Sugar”—all refined, although not as much as white sugar. The cane juice is heated, clarified, dehydrated, and then spun. Sometimes chemicals are used during the clarifying process. The crystals that are formed are basically empty carbohydrates. “Organic Raw Sugar” does not mean it is unrefined. It means it was grown with organic agricultural methods…and then refined. The molasses has been mostly removed, and there is not much nutritional value left.
Brown sugar—white sugar (see below) mixed with molasses.White sugar—the most refined form. The sugar is washed with a syrup solution, then washed with hot water, clarified (chemically), decolourized (you don’t want to know how), concentrated, centrifuged, and then dried. Crystallized refined sugars are pure sucrose devoid of any nutrition other than calories. Refined sugar can actually compete with and remove vitamins and minerals.

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Some other natural, whole sugars in other forms that still retain a lot of nutritional value are honey, blackstrap molasses, and maple syrup (organic, no formaldehyde). Molasses is a byproduct of processing cane or beet sugar. It is high in iron, calcium, and magnesium. Maple syrup contains fewer calories and higher concentrations of minerals than honey. It is a good source of manganese and zinc. Honey contains trace amounts of vitamins and minerals, but it contains compounds thought to act as antioxidants. Pasteurization destroys yeast cells, deteriorates the honey, and destroys enzymes. Raw honey contains pollen and is mildly antibacterial, antifungal, and antiviral.

Beware of agave syrup. Some brands can contain as much as 92% fructose…not a naturally occurring ratio anywhere in nature!! It contains more fructose than high fructose corn syrup! Even though it is low on the glycemic scale, the concentrated fructose may be worse than high amounts of glucose.

Stevia is a South American herb that is gaining popularity. Stevia is 30 times sweeter than sugar. Refined stevia can be 30-200 times sweeter than other sugars. It will not spike blood sugar levels, and it is calorie free. However, be wary of the refining process and stick with natural forms if possible.

See this amazing website with pictures depicting how many sugar cubes your favorite beverages and meals contain…

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Know Your Ingredients #8

Skim milk, partially hydrogenated soybean oil, onion, cellulose gel, citiric acid, salt, sugar, mono- and diglycerides, hydrolyzed vegetablte protein, Romano cheese, sodium hexmetaphosphate, monosodium glutamate, cellulose gum, xanthan gum, natural and artificial flavoring, garlic, celery

Friday, October 29, 2010

Makers Diet: Eat your vegetables

Have you eaten any vegetables today? What about yesterday? Did you get at least 3 servings EACH day??

According to an ABC News report, “Overall, about a third of American adults ate at least two servings of vegetables daily during 2009, and about a fourth consumed at least three servings of vegetables daily.”

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Vegetables contain antioxidants and compounds that you cannot get anywhere else. You will find phytochemicals and biophotons. People with higher intakes of vegetables have lower risks of stroke, diabetes, cancer, heart disease, and Alzheimer’s. They have higher scores on cognitive tests and higher antioxidants.

Dr. Mercola has a great chart of recommended vegetables.
His general rule is: the greener the better. He recommends at least 1/3 of the food you eat should be raw. Buy organic, locally-grown seasonable vegetables if possible. Carefully wash all conventional vegetables (non-organic), and remove peels and cores.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Product Review: Kiss my face bubble bath

In an effort to replace products with preservatives and toxins, our kids products were some of the first I looked at.  One of the things we enjoy using the most is bubble bath.  Most of the bubble baths I had bought were 5-7 on the EWG's Skin Deep database.  My goal is to get all of our products to less than 3 in one year's time.  I came across Kiss My Face's bubble bath and I love it!  It is called Orange U Smart, and it smells soooo good.  Here is what Kiss My Face has to say:

Obsessively Natural Kids Bubble Wash
No parabens

No artificial colors

No fragrances

pH balanced

100% biodegradable
Ingredients: Aqua, Aloe Vera (Aloe Barbadensis), Camellia Sinensis (Green Tea) Extract, Arctium Lappa (Burdock) Root Extract, Urtica Dioica Nettle Extract, Disodium Coco-Glucoside Sulfosuccinate, Cyamopsis Tetragonoloba (Guar Gum), Decyl Glucoside, Xanthan Gum, Natural Blend or Essential Oils, Capric Acid, Glycerin, Panthenol, Potassium Sorbate, Glycine
Efficiency:  9--The kids love it.  I love the smell, and the kids come out squeaky clean!!  Big bubbles that last for a while!
Cost:  7--Usually this runs about $8 a bottle.  While that sounds like a very expensive bubble bath, the same bottle has lasted us for months.  It really only takes a small squirt to get a whole bathtub full of bubbles.  I think the cost is justified.
Green factor: 9--This is where the cosmetic database becomes very useful!  I don't know if capric acid is good or bad, but EWG ranks it as a 1.  Overall the product gets a 2.  However, the do not specifiy what essential oils they use.
Overall:  8.5--This is a great product.  I feel safe putting it on my children.  I am very sensitive to fragrances and this smells so good.  I love taking a bath with it, and it lasts a very long time.  The cost balances out because of the other changes we have made...baking soda/vinegar for our hair, no more hairspray, etc.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Homemade ginger snap cookies

These cookies are fantastic and Kai LOVED making them with me. He got to dip the balls in the sugar and put them on the cookie sheet. I think a few of the balls of dough never made it onto the cookie sheet.

• 3/4 cup coconut oil, solid state

• 3/4 – 1 cup sucanat/rapadura

• 1 egg

• 1/4 cup blackstrap molasses

• 2 cups whole wheat flour, sprouted is preferred (or replace 1 cup with unbleached white flour for a higher rise)

• 2 teaspoons baking soda

• 1/2 teaspoon salt

• 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

• 1 tablespoon ground ginger


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1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease cookie sheets.

2. In a large bowl, cream the coconut oil and sucanat/rapadura.

3. Add the egg, and whisk until incorporated and somewhat light and fluffy. Pour in the molasses.

4. In a separate bowl, mix together the flour, baking soda, salt, ginger and cinnamon. Add to the liquid mixture and stir until combined.

5. Scoop by tablespoon into small 1 inch balls. Dip each ball into additional sucanat/rapadura if desired.

6. Place on cookie sheet about 2 inches apart. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes, until cookies have spread and tops have cracked.

Makes approximately 3 dozen cookies.

Oh, and DEFINITELY dip them in the sucanat or brown sugar!!!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Know your ingredients #7 answer

Miracle Whip

Ewwwwwwwww.  This is not one of my favorite condiments, but especially not after reading those ingredients. 

Monday, October 18, 2010

Know your ingredients #7

Water, soybean oil, sugar, vinegar, food starch-modified, salt, cellulose gel (microcrystaline cellulose), mustard flour, egg white, artificial color, sodium caseinate, xanthan gum, cellulose gum, spice, paprika, natural flavor, betacarotene (color)

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Do you get enough sun?

For years all we have heard about is sunscreen and skin cancer. I have several family members that have already had cancerous skin spots removed. However, the consequence of always using sunscreen is at least two-fold. One, sunscreens are filled with harmful ingredients. Two, as a nation, we are now vitamin D deficient.

Vitamin D deficiency has been linked to 17 varieties of cancer as well as heart disease, depression, osteoarthritis, muscle weakness, diabetes, autism, decreased immunity and more. Research indicates that we really need a minimum of 400 IU daily and some research indicates up to 5,000 IU of vitamin D daily. Even though milk is now called “Vitamin D milk,” you would need 50 glasses of milk to get that much. Another problem is that most foods are not very rich in vitamin D. However, 20-30 min of sun exposure can produce 10,000 IU Vitamin D.

There are some pretty hefty studies going on concerning vitamin D. The American Academy of Pediatrics has already recommended all breastfed infants be supplemented with vitamin D, and rumor has it that the government is considering increasing the RDA.

How do you reconcile that with the dangers of the sun? Well, for our family, I only use sunscreen if we are going to be out for more than 30 minutes. I do not put sunscreen on 30 min before sun exposure as advised. We put it on after we have been in the sun. I encourage 15-30 min of outdoor play at a time every day if possible (balanced with 100% humidity for much of the year where we live). We go for walks often.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

The power of sun

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Did you know that the sun is one of the most powerful and popular items mentioned on cloth diapering forums? It often comes up on a daily basis (yes, I know I am a dork for reading cloth diapering boards). Every couple of days or so someone complains again about getting all the stains out, or a particularly stubborn stain. Time and time again, others chirp in about the sun.

Not only does the sun have powerful bleaching properties, it also has powerful antibacterial properties. On the off chance your baby gets a diaper rash (esp bacterial or yeast), the sun is often all you need to rid your diapers of any culprits. It really takes first hand experience to be quite amazed. I had diapers that I knew the sun would not turn white, but it did!! I had diapers that just had little smudges that I didn’t even care about, but they were absolutely pristine after leaving them in the sun (yes, I described a diaper as possibly being pristine).

Cloth diapers have a pretty high resale value (50-80%) and often times moms will carefully describe if the diapers have been sunned or not before selling. It’s widely accepted that the sun is one of the most powerful cleaning tools. It is best to lay the diapers out wet and let them fully dry in the sun. If you have a particularly stubborn stain you can also use a little lemon juice (wash the diapers again afterwards). However, the sun has always taken care of every stain by itself for me. It also works in as little as 1-2 hours if you’re in a hurry, and it works on cloudy days, too

In summary, some of the benefits are:

--NO energy (but your own)

--gets rid of odor

--gets rid of stains

--gets rid of bacteria

--conversation starter