Saturday, July 31, 2010

Know Your Ingredients Answer #4

MY APOLOGIES...I did not realize that this had not posted.  I thought I had saved it to post automatically.  Here is the answer!

Get ready for this...Chick-fil-A Polynesian Sauce

Chick-fil-A is sort of a delicacy in the South!  We often go there once a week.  It's one of the healthiest fast food restaurants by fast food standards.  There's not much fast food I will feed to my toddler, but for some reason, Chick-fil-A seems justifiable.  When he's ready to go play on the playground and there's a million kids running around screaming, sometimes the only way to get him to eat his "healthy" food is to say, "Here!  Here's some sauce.  Dip your chicken in it and finish eating!"  This really gave me a lot to think about!  I'm not sure if this is one step I'm ready to take!  Do I forbid it?  Do I start making my own??  Do we justify it by eating out less and in moderation?

Just FYI:  propylene glycol is used in everything from food/cosmetic additives, production of paintballs, black tattoo ink, film developing chemicals, airplane deicing, and drug solvents.  It has been reported in the literature to cause toxicity in neonates, resulting in organ failure and death.  Not exactly something I want to be ingesting in my food, and especially not something I want my children exposed to.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Know Your Ingredients #4

Ingredients:  High fructose corn syrup, soybean oil, corn-cider vinegar, distilled vinegar, tomato paste, salt, paprika, modified food starch, spices, honey, beet juice concentrate, natural flavors, xanthan gum, dehydrated onion, dehydrated garlic, and propylene glycol alginate.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Product Review: Diaper sprayer

I'm pretty sure that this doesn't even apply to anyone that follows my blog, except on the occasions my husband shows me how much he truly loves me by spraying diapers, but the next product I want to discuss is my diaper sprayer.

I'm not sure how people cloth diaper without it.  My parents have told me horror stories of dunking and swishing plastic pants and diapers when I was a baby.  I've heard everything from dumping what you can in the toilet and that's it to scraping with a knife.  The purpose of this post was not to gross anyone out!!  I promise!!  However, if there is every anyone that read my posts on cloth diapers and is even remotely interested in using cloth diapers, I didn't want to leave this very important item unmentioned.  It makes cloth diaper messes a breeze!!!

Most of the brand diaper sprayers/bidets sell from $50 but there is a Sigma brand sprayer on eBay for $25, which is where I got mine.  There are also several tutorials on how to make your own.  It's very simple to make but when I actually priced all of the parts at Lowes it was over $30.  I definitely wanted a shut off valve since it was going to be in the bathroom where Kai takes his baths.  That was really my only requirement.  I really like that this brand has variable pressure with the shut off valve.

If you think spraying diaper off is gross, you might not have potty trained a toddler.  Kai started potty training at the exact same time we switched Caitlin to cloth diapers.  Let's just say I got over the ick factor very quickly.  I would highly recommend this to anyone who might cloth diaper.  Again, not to gross anyone out, but I don't think I could deal with the mess without one.  Stains and odors are highly minimized, and I don't worry about my washing machine having to wash all of it out.

Ease of use: 10--I had it installed out of the package in about 10 minutes or less including the time it took to get all of the tools together.  The pressure is high enough to rinse but not so high that I've ever sprayed myself in the face!
Affordability: 10--Cheaper than making it myself.  I've used it for 4 months with no leaks and I plan to get at least 2 years out of it.
Efficacy:  10--It does what it says.  Simple as that.  I love the shut-off, variable pressure valve.
Overall:  10--I have no dislikes or complaints.  It hangs on a nice little hook by our toilet.  I use it almost daily and I would recommend it to anyone who cloth diapers hands down.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Homemade granola

This is one of my favorite recipes!!!  Our whole family gobbles it up.  It may not be entirely healthy by the time you get done with it, but it's got all the good stuff!

6 cups rolled oats
1 cup sliced almonds
1 cup chopped pecans
1 cup raisins
1/4 cup coconut oil
1/4 cup honey
1/2 cup water

Heat oven to 250 degrees.  Slightly grease two baking pans (I line mine with aluminum foil first).  Mix all of your ingredients together and spread the granola evenly over the two pans.  Here's the icing on the cake;  drizzle with more honey.  Bake for 1 hour, tossing every 15 min.  Cool and store in airtight container.

There are so many variations to this recipe.  You can add any seeds, nuts, dried fruits, superfoods, nutritional supplements.  If the texture of the granola isn't to your liking, there are lots of other baking times and degrees you can try.  However you make it, you really can't go wrong!

Monday, July 26, 2010

Know Your Ingredients Answer #3

The answer is Wyler's bouillon cubes.  Hydrolyzed doesn't sound good.  Partially hydrolyzed doesn't sound any better, let alone worse.  Corn syrup solids??  Yuck.  Did you see that sugar is listed twice?  What exactly is in caramel color, and what's a flavor enhancer?  If it has natural flavorings, why don't they list the natural ingredients.  I like that it has caramel color and artificial color. 

All those bowls of chicken bouillon I had after my wisdom teeth were pulled sound horrible!!!

Salt, hydrolyzed vegetable protein, corn syrup solids, sugar, beef fat, monosodium glutamate (flavor enhancer), dextrose (corn sugar), onion powder, water, garlic powder, caramel color, natural flavorings, disodium guanylate & disodium inosinate (flavor enhancers), partially hydrogenated vegetable oil (soybean oil and/or palm oil and/or cottonseed oil), artificial color.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Know Your Ingredients #3

Salt, hydrolyzed vegetable protein, corn syrup solids, sugar, beef fat, monosodium glutamate (flavor enhancer), dextrose (corn sugar), onion powder, water, garlic powder, caramel color, natural flavorings, disodium guanylate & disodium inosinate (flavor enhancers), partially hydrogenated vegetable oil (soybean oil and/or palm oil and/or cottonseed oil), artificial color.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Know Your Ingredients Answer #2

The answer was Mango Chutney.  Sorry I was late posting it.  Hard to believe all the ingredients that is in a simple condiment!

Product Review: Carrots

I've decided to do some weekly Know Your Ingredients quizzes as well as product reviews during my journey to a more organic and healthy lifestyle.  The quizzes are a fun way to realize all of the artificial ingredients that you would never guess are hidden in favorite foods.  It really opened my eyes to do a better job at reading labels.  I also have very strict criteria for the first 3 ingredients, as well as look for multiple ways to disguise the same category of ingredient. 

The product reviews will be things I've actually tried.  Some I've loved and some I won't ever buy again.  I try to pay close attention to the Environmental Working Group's Cosmetic Database and the hazard score.  Down the road I'll post some of the scores for products we originally used and the scores of products we were able to switch to.

I'm sure your first question was, "Why carrots???"  Ok, I'm not just talking about carrots.  I'm talking about USDA organic carrots.  I'm not even talking about local carrots.  I really have never tasted carrots as good as organic carrots.  Sometimes our family will even sit down at dinner and eat them raw.  In fact, we probably all prefer them that way.  They are sweet, juicy, and crisp.  Conventional carrots often have a bitter taste to me, and occasionally, they seem bland.  Not so with organic carrots.  No bitter, dirt taste...just sweet.  Here's the marks:
Affordability:  8--$1-2 more per package than conventional carrots, doable
Taste:  10--no comparison to conventional
Longevity:  9--occasionally dry out after a week, but no problems with them going bad any sooner than conventional
Overall:  9

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Homemade deoderant

Ok, so I'm going to go out on a limb here.  This probably sounds crazy, right??!  Even Lee won't try this, but I have been making my own deoderant for a few months.  Guess what??  I love it!!  I was so extremely skeptical at first.  A very good friend of mine mentioned she was making her own and after reading the Great Physician Rx about eliminating toxins I was at least intrigued.  I asked a ton of questions...does it stain, how do you apply it, does it WORK...? 

I really wanted it to work.  Store bought deoderants work by blocking  sweat production.  No those toxins don't smell peachy...but they need to come out.  Sweat is normal, sweat is good.  We just don't want to smell it, right?  Well, I decided to give it a try.  If I can't find coupons for organic products, what beats not having to buy them??

Here's the recipe:
Homemade deoderant

1/4 cup corn starch or arrowroot powder

1/4 cup baking powder

6 T coconut oil (solid)

(optional) several drops of favorite essential oil
This makes a large batch.  I've used the same batch for at least 2 months now.  The true test is that I live in South Georgia, ok, Central Georgia but I consider it SOUTH.  It is usually 100% humidity or close to it.  It feels like a cloak outside.  I can count the number of times on one hand that I think I needed more deoderant, and I don't think any deoderant in the world would have cut it.  Yes, I have felt more moist than with typical deoderant...but again, I truly think it's a good thing to "perspire" every now and then.  Give it a try...if you're brave!  And, no, it doesn't stain.  Just mix it up in a small container and dip a little on your fingers.  It goes great with coconut oil as a facial moisturize :)))

Friday, July 16, 2010

Know Your Ingredients

Here is another quiz for you...
Name this product:

Imported mangoes, corn syrup, sugar, distilled vinegar, salt, raisins, lime juice, dextrose, tamarind extrant, caramel coloring, spices, natural flavors and dehydrated onions.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Organic vs. local

This can easily turn into a heated, political discussion, but I wonder which is the better choice:  buying local or buying organic.  I don't know the answer.  I think both can be good things.  For now, I'm going to buy organic as often as possible for things in the dirty dozen with the most pesticide exposure.  However, if it comes down to local or conventional, I'll definitely be supporting local growers vs. apples from Chili.  Here are some of the pros and cons:

Organic Pros:  no pesticides, better for children since they are exposed to higher levels of pesticide per body surface area, retained nutrients

Local Pros:  sustainable for local economy, less travel distance and possibly less resources, picked at the freshest and ripest time, high amount of nutrients retained

Organic cons:  often picked before riped and shipped from large distances, often goes bad quickly due to time of harvesting, cost

Local cons:  unknown or probably amounts of pesticides, less desirable for small children if pesticide used, often overripe

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Food Cravings

One of the hardest things for me with the Makers Diet is that I crave sugar.  I didn't at first.  I felt amazing.  I still feel amazing, but I started having sugar cravings.  Several of my friends that follow the makers diet have also had this craving.  I'm not sure why, but I haven't figured out what to do about it!  When I give in and have sugar, I feel awful!!!  So my body doesn't exactly need the sugar but I haven't figured out what is lacking in my diet.

After a discussion with my dad, I found a list he referenced.  It's a chart of what your body really needs when you are craving something.  I tried several times to list it here, but I don't know enough about blogging to do that yet.  Here is the Naturopathyworks website if you want to check it out for yourself.  A lot of it really makes sense, and it gave me a lot of good ideas.  I do have to say that I don't think some nuts and fruit aren't exactly going to cut it when I want a raspberry dark chocolate bar!

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Know your Diapers

In following with my cloth diaper kick, the first thing I wanted to do was explain some of the different diaper options.  When I say "cloth diapers," what do you think of?  Rubber pants and toilet swishing.  Well, guess Mom and Dad, there's a whole new world!  Cloth diapers have totally transformed into a cost-effective, Daddy friendly, cute way to diaper that baby bottom.  Lee has his baseball cards, and I have my cloth diapers.  They are consuming and addictive.  There are many different options and they all fit babies differently.  So the first thing I'm going to do is explain some of the different options.

This is taken from a great website called Diaper Jungle.  They provide everything from local resources to sewing information to diaper reviews. 
Prefolds:  Requires a wrap or a cover.  May require a fastener such as pins or a snappi (plastic y-shapped piece with plastic gripper teeth).  Usually made of totton, Birdseye flannel, hemp, or velour.

All in One (AIO) and All in Twos (AI2):  Does not require a wrap or a cover--this feature is built in.  Usually fastens with snaps or hook and loop (Velcro).  Outer layer is waterproof...usually made with polyurethane laminate (PUL), Procare, fleece, or wool.  A double will increase absorbancy.  A separate stuffer or doubler lays inside an AI2. Usually has elastic legs and back area.

Pocket Diapers:  Does not require a wrap or cover--this feature is built in.  Usually fastens with snaps or hook and loop.  Outer latyer is waterproof...usually made with PUL, Procare, fleece, or wool. Requires an absorbent stuffer material to be placed in the pocket before use.  Usually has elastic legs and back area.

Fitted Diapers:  Requires a wrap or cover.  Usually fastens with snaps or hook and loop, sometimes a snappi or pins may be used.  Outer and inner layers are not waterproof and may consist of many different fabric types.  A doubler will increase absorbancy.  Usually has elastic legs and back areas.

Here's another explanation from Bulk Cloth
There are four basic types of cloth diapering systems:

All in One Cloth Diapers

Also known as "AIO"s, these diapers are the easiest and most leak proof diapers to use and have a built in diaper cover sewn into the cotton or fleece layer. They fasten with snaps or velcro and work like the ease of a disposable. No diaper cover is required.
Examples of All in Ones:

Imse Vimse AIO Diaper - A new fantastic All-in-One diaper, made with 100 % certified organic cotton - Smply the best!

Fitted Cloth Diapers

These diapers are contoured to the shape of baby, with elastic around the legs and waist. They have snap or Aplix/velcro closures and DO require a diaper cover. One of the reasons why customers choose this diapering system is because fitted diapers with diaper covers dry faster than the All in One diapers.

Examples of Fitted Diapers:
Thirsties Cotton Fitted Diapers - We love fitted diapers for their their great fit, for the convenience they offer, and for their affordability. Thirsties® Cotton Fitted Diapers work exceptionally well at comfortably containing leaks. This is the most absorbent fitted diaper of all those we have tested!

Prefold and Flat Diapers

These diapers are wonderful for not only diapering but are used as burp cloths, household clean-ups, and so much more. These diapers may need to be fastened with diaper pins or a Snappi and used with a diaper cover. The covers we have available do NOT require the use of pins.

Examples of Prefold or Flat Diapers:
Chinese Prefold Diapers - These 100 % cotton chinese pre-fold diapers are the most softest, most absorbent pre-fold diapers available on the market. Available in white (bleached) or natural (unbleached). Six sizes available.
Birdseye Cotton Flat Diapers - These are the true old fashioned diapers (nappies) that are made of soft 100% birdseye cotton. This is the original cloth diaper still used in many countries. These are a one size fits all diaper that requires folding to properly fit baby. These diapers also make wonderful comfort blankets, dish towels, burp cloths, cleaning cloths, lap pads, and more!

The diapers dry very quickly because they are only one layer thick. Use with pins and pants or try one of our diaper covers. If you have the patience and the pioneering spirit using these diapers are far and away the least expensive way to comfortably diaper your baby.

Pocket Diapers

The three main components of Pocket Diapers are: A waterproof outer barrier fabric that is sewn to the second component, an inner moisture-wicking fabric that keeps the skin feeling dry. These two fabrics form a pocket for the third component, an absorbent insert, to be placed.

Pocket Diapers function in a way that no other diaper has in history. They use special materials against the baby's skin to keep the baby's skin dry resulting in numerous benefits for the mom and baby, not to mention the elimination and treatment of diaper rash ... which is why this style diaper was created in the first place.

Examples of Pocket Diapers:

FuzziBunz® Pocket Diapers - The original pocket diaper! Soft, waterproof outer barrier keeps wetness contained. 100% Polyester microfleece inside touches baby's skin and wicks moisture away keeping baby rash free, dry, and comfortable. Multi-sized diapers allow you to choose the best size for your baby for a custom-like feel.
Happy Heinys Pocket Diapers - Happy Heinys solid colors have been baby tested and last 12+ hours at night with absolutely no wicking for most babies. Their innovative cloth diaper design and Aplix brand hook and loop closures (similar to Velcro) give babies a snug, comfortable fitting diaper that's as easy to use as a disposable.

bumGenius! One Size Pocket Diapers - bumGenius! diapers easily fit (and they really do!) babies from 6 pounds all the way up to 35 pounds. Designed with fit and function in mind. Experience the first cloth diaper loved by every-day people - like your babysitter, grandparents and even dad! The bumGenius! one-size cloth diaper is the first cloth diaper to feature stretch-to-fit tabs (patent pending), making cloth diapering as easy AND as comfortable as disposables.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Avoiding pesticides

I'm going to be writing more about cloth diapers soon, which ones are which and which ones are our favorites.  Let me just say that they have come a LONG way!  Not that I live my life based on anything celebreties do, but there are actually a lot of celebrity parents that are using cloth diapers, boutique-ish of course.  I only say that  because now I think cloth has such a desirable advantage over disposables, and I think a lot of people are starting to see that, too.  So, more to follow...

Today I wanted to mention a super easy way to make an organic impact on your whole family.  Produce!!  We are in my favorite season of the year in Georgia, foodwise (not temperature wise).  Almost everything is in season!!  I have to be careful not to overbuy before I can use everything that's on sale.

One of the biggest complaints about organic food is the cost.  It just isn't feasible for most of us to buy 100% organic.  Produce that isn't genetically modified is often out of season very quickly and becomes even more expensive.  Our only local organic grocery chain is Earthfare, and I have to work really hard to shop there without going way over budget.  However, they do have an agreement to their customers that they won't sell anything that is overinflated.  I think their definition and my definition of overinflated differ at times.

The great thing about produce is that there are some foods that absorb pesticides more than others.  So when you're in a pinch and can't afford or can't find the organic brand, buy local or conventional variety.  The Environmental Working Group has put out a very helpful list of the Dirty Dozen worst foods to buy conventially grown, and the Clean 15 lowest in pesticides.  Here's the list:

Dirty Dozen
1.  Celery
2.  Peaches
3.  Strawberries
4.  Apples
5.  Blueberries (domestic)
6.  Nectarines
7.  Sweet bell peppers
8.  Spinach
9.  Collard greens/kale
10.  Cherries
11.  Potatoes
12.  Grapes (imported)

Clean 15
1.  Onions
2.  Avocados
3.  Sweet corn
4.  Pineapples
5.  Mangos
6.  Sweet peas
7.  Asparagus
8.  Kiwi
9.  Cabbage
10.  Eggplant
11.  Cantaloupe (domestic)
12.  Watermelon
13.  Grapefruit
14.  Sweet potatoes
15.  Honeydew melon