Adventures in Living a Natural Lifestyle

Sharing my adventures in living a more natural lifestyle, information about essential oils and natural home, health, and beauty recipes!


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Lactation Smoothies: A Healthier Alternative to Cookies! #WBW2015

To continue celebrating World Breastfeeding Week 2015 I thought I would follow up on my Lactation Cookie recipe with a healthier alternative for those mamas who follow a clean eating lifestyle or who are trying to shed some of that baby weight. If you missed my previous post a couple weeks ago head on over and check it out now for tips on how to increase your breastmilk production naturally and get that cookie recipe for when you are needing a sweet tooth fix!

I’ve mentioned several times before how much I love my Vitamix.  Not only does it help us make healthy and nutritious baby food but it helps us stick to our clean eating lifestyle by making green smoothies when we need a quick meal or a protein boost. There are all sorts of smoothie recipes on the interwebz that you can find with simple Google or Pinterest search so I won’t go into a great deal of detail on smoothies but I will mention that we prefer “Green” smoothies, which means that we add dark leafy “power” greens to our smoothies to help provide an energy boost, increase our fiber intake, and get all the delicious nutrients like Vitamins A, K, D, and E!  I really like this blog post on How to Create the Perfect Green Smoothie from 100 Days of Real Food.

My favorite ingredients to make Green Smoothies with are:

  • Greens – we like Kale, Rainbow Chard, Spinach, or our favorite is the organic “Power Greens” blend from the produce section at Costco.  You can portion it up into individual portion sizes and freeze it to keep it from going bad since it’s a giant bag!
  • Fresh or Frozen fruit – We prefer frozen so it makes the smoothie cold without having to add ice. We like to buy the organic Antioxidant blend with strawberries, raspberries, and blueberries from Costco.  They also have a Mango blend of frozen fruit that is really yummy!
  • Bananas – Aside from tasting really good bananas are loaded with vitamins making them really good for you.  They are an excellent source of Potassium which can help prevent cramps after long workouts! Plus they help keep the texture of your smoothie nice and creamy.
  • Greek Yogurt – Adds protein to your smoothie and is an excellent source of probiotics to keep your gut healthy and happy.  We buy the Kirkland Signature two-pack at Costco.
  • Soy Milk – I find that Green Smoothies can be really thick and often need a bit of liquid to smooth them out and make them a texture that I like to drink.  So I add Soy Milk instead of water.  We get the Vanilla flavored Silk brand from Costco.  It’s got a little added sugar to it to make it sweet.  Between this and the fruit I find I don’t need to add any natural sweeteners. Plus the isoflavones in soy help lower cholesterol naturally and can help fight heart disease!
  • Chia Seeds – Packs a whopping punch of extra fiber, protein, and vitamins for your smoothie!

Already have a smoothie recipe that you love? Add the following to your favorite smoothie recipe to help boost your breastmilk production and stick to your healthy eating plan!

  • 1 tbsp Brewer’s Yeast
  • 2 tbsp ground Flax meal
  • 1/3 cup of Oatmeal

Have a tried and true Lactation Smoothie recipe you want to share with us for World Breastfeeding Week #WBW2015? Share it in the comments below!


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Infant tummies are delicate things! Here’s a DIY Prune Puree and Juice recipe for constipated babies.

So in all my excitement to introduce my daughter to new and exciting healthy solid foods I missed the memo about constipation.  Up until 4 1/2 months my daughter was exclusively fed breastmilk.  We started solids slowly only giving her a little here and a little there for the first two weeks, then once a day for the next 3 weeks or so and only in the last couple weeks have we been giving her solids twice daily.  At home it is usually in between breastfeeding but at daycare they tend to offer her solids first around lunch time and then give a bottle after she has had her food.  I had previously read that babies didn’t need water because they got all they needed from breastmilk or formula.  However, once babies start solids adding a little bit of water, between 2-4 oz daily, can help prevent constipation.  Live and learn…

Little tummies are delicate things. So last weekend we were faced with a very constipated and unhappy baby.  She was super fussy, only wanted to be held, had a lot of excess gas and would cry when she would pass what little she could.  So I immediately ran to my Facebook mommies support group and asked how to help.  The overwhelming answer was give her prunes or prune juice and add a bit of water daily during meal times.  The water was easy, we’ve got a sippy cup that we had introduced a couple times so this just gave us a reason to practice daily (although I’m not convinced she’s getting much as she seems to wear more of it than she drinks on most days!).  But I had no idea how to give a baby prunes.  Since we’ve been making all our own homemade healthy baby food thus far (see my previous post Homemade Nutritious Baby Food Recipes) I accepted the challenge and went off to find a prune purée recipe.  What I found was super simple!

DIY Prune Purée and Juice Recipe: 

Ingredients:

  • 1 bag of organic dried prunes – you can usually find these in the bulk or dried food sections of healthfood stores.  (I was desperate and closer to Kroger than any of our health food stores in town and couldn’t find organic.  But I did find preservative free prunes, so that alleviated some of my guilt.  Prunes, or Plums rather, are 18/50 on EWG’s Full List of Fruits and Vegetables with Pesticide Residue so you decide how important organic is to you.)
  • Approximately 2 cups of water – enough to cover the plums by 1″

Directions:

Rinse prunes well, especially if you were unable to find organic prunes.  Place prunes in medium saucepan and cover with water by 1″.  Bring to a boil and simmer for about 10 minutes.  Let cool then add prunes to Vitamix or food processor.  Add reserved water a little at a time until desired consistency.  It will be a thick paste consistency, however.  You can even experiment by adding it to other foods to keep little systems regular.  Keep the remainder of the reserved prune water to give as a substitute to store bought prune juice.  No added sugar, preservatives or artificial junk! (I served a little and froze the rest in breastmilk storage bags – 2 oz each for when we need to get the system moving again).

Modified from the original recipe at Rookie Moms: Prune Baby Food

 

My little love was blocked up for 3 days with very little movement.  I made this puree on Sunday and gave her 1 oz plus she drank about 1/2 – 1 oz of prune juice that day and sent her with 1 oz of puree and more juice to daycare on Monday.  On Monday she had 3 BM (be prepared for poopsplosions – here’s my recipe for DIY Stain Remover if you missed it) and 2 more on Tuesday.  We served apple puree on Tuesday at daycare as a transition meal then re-introduced greens Tuesday evening for some fiber and froze the rest of the prune purée for a rainy day.  It seemed like this has helped reset her system a little bit.  I’ve been more cautious about giving too much oatmeal or too many bananas and have been trying to give her water every day (although I admit I forget some days).  Overall we are quite pleased with this recipe!

What’s your favorite way to give your little one prunes? Share your recipe below!


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Homemade Nutritious Baby Food Recipes: A Month’s Worth of Freezer Meals in One Weekend!

I had always said I would wait until my daughter was 6 months old before introducing her to solid foods because I knew that the benefits of breastmilk for the first 6 months were too great to be ignored. But I’m also a firm believer in listening (with your ears, eyes, and mommy intuition) to your children and at 4 and a half months old my child was telling me she was ready to start eating real food.  She would follow our forks with her eyes from the plate to our mouths, reach out and grab at our forks or our food as we were eating, try to grab our cups and would even put her mouth on the rim like she was trying to take a drink if we gave her an empty cup.  She was clearly picking up on all the visual clues about food and meal time and I felt like I had to start letting her try out some food for herself.

My husband and I started our healthy lifestyle and clean eating journey in January of 2014 after watching several food documentaries that really opened up our eyes to everything that was wrong with the way we were eating.  Part of the transition to a healthier lifestyle for us was investing in a Vitamix so that we could make green smoothies.   We had been trying to conceive for the better part of a year at that point and knew that one day we would have the family that we had been longing for.  We were excited about all the possibilities for making our own healthy baby food with the Vitamix and used this as part of the justification for the not insubstantial up-front investment.  We’ve used the Vitamix for countless things since then and it has paid for itself! So naturally, I was really excited to get the chance to break it out to make my own baby food now that our little one is finally old enough to start solids.

Why make your own baby food when there are so many options at the grocery store?

  • Only the best ingredients – By making your own baby food you can control the quality of the ingredients.  Want only locally sourced, non-GMO, organic fruits and vegetables? – done! Want only farm-raised, antibiotic and hormone free meats? – done! Want to grow your own fruits and vegetables? – done!
  • More vitamins & nutrients – Commercial baby food is cooked at extremely high temperatures in order to kill bacteria and increase the shelf life of the product.  But unfortunately this process also cooks out a lot of the vitamins and nutrients that are found in fruits and vegetables and part of a healthy diet.  By making your own baby food you can control the temperature
  • No added salt – while a little salt won’t hurt your baby we seem to have a love affair with salt in the United States and pre-packaged baby food is no exception!  During the first year of life it is recommended that children only receive between 120 and 370 mg of salt per day, yet a recent study by the CDC examined the contents of pre-packaged toddler meals and found that 72% contained 210 mg of sodium, or more!  Even “healthy” packaged foods, like fruits and vegetables, contained as much sodium as a bag of potato chips!
  • No added sugar – just like our love affair with salt, the United States seems to think that sugar is one of the major food groups.  We add sugar to everything in this country and it’s no wonder that we have one of the world’s highest rates of Type 2 Diabetes! Sadly, we seem to start this trend in sugary foods at a very early age.  The same CDC study I cited above found that 57% of the prepackaged grains and fruits contained added sugar and nearly half had as much as 35% of their calories from sugar!!!
  • No thickening agents or added starches – the bottom line for prepackaged food is profit and one shady way that many baby food companies increase their profit margin is by bulking up their product with thickening agents or added starches (with no nutritional value) to stretch the limits of the quality ingredients, such as fruits and vegetables, and thus decreases the nutrient density of the food.  Companies may also dilute their food with water.  While water is often included as an ingredient in homemade baby food as well, especially to get a good consistency in pureed foods, it should never be the first (and primary) ingredient.
  • No preservatives – “No artificial preservatives” are big marketing ploys in today’s day and age. Even organic brands aren’t entirely devoid of preservatives.  Most use natural preservatives like citric acid, ascorbic acid and even folic acid – which can be used to clean lime scale and metal stains on an industrial level – to extend their shelf life.  Sugar is also a natural preservative, believe it or not, and both sugar and citric acid can start to erode the enamel on those shiny new teefers your baby is working so hard on cutting.
  • No artificial flavoring – “Natural flavoring” is again another big marketing ploy that is really not all that different from artificial, or synthetic, flavoring. When you cook the tar out of the food and dilute it with water or thickening agents the likelihood of it tasting like the original food it was based on is slim to none.  Therefor, many baby food companies feel the need to add flavoring to make their food taste better.  Salt and sugar are by far the most common added ingredients to improve flavor but “natural flavoring” is a quick third.  Natural flavoring just means that the flavor came from plant or animal sources, not necessarily from the food it is designed to taste like.
  • No artificial colors – lets face it, prepackaged baby food looks gross… by the time you’ve boiled the ingredients out and added salt and sugar to make it taste better,  and preservatives and thickening agents to increase the manufacturer’s profit margin there’s not much left that looks like real food anymore.  As a result, many baby food companies will add artificial color to make their food look more appealing.
  • Expose your child to a variety of healthy foods at an early age – by repeatedly exposing your child to healthy foods from a very early age you are increasing the likelihood that they will choose healthy foods later in life.  But don’t give up too soon! Research indicates that most parents will only try a new food 2-3 times before assuming their child doesn’t like it and quits serving it.  However, it could take as many as 10-14 exposures to a new food before babies develop a taste for it.  So just because they spit out green beans the first time they try it doesn’t mean they won’t learn to like them! For more information check out Dr. Green’s book Feeding Baby Green.
  • An endless variety of flavor combinations – By making your own baby food you aren’t simply limited by the boring flavor combinations you find on the shelf.  Feel free to get creative and make your own yummy flavor combinations!
  • More economical – While making your own baby food does cost time it can cut down on the financial cost of buying pre-packaged baby food.
  • Better for the environment – You can package your food in reusable containers and cut down on the waste of buying pre-packaged foods.  If you’ve used baby food in glass jars in the past and held onto them thinking that one day you would find a use for them break out the Gerber’s glass jars and store your own baby food in them!

Here’s a USA Today article that discusses the CDC findings I listed above: http://www.today.com/parents/packaged-food-babies-toddlers-loaded-sugar-salt-t14121

Also check out The Alpha Parent’s blog post on The Truth About Baby Food Jars for more info.

Note: There are a lot more healthy, nutritious pre-packaged baby foods on the market today than ever before.  One brand that I’m intrigued by and I know a lot of parents like is Earth’s Best which does claim to be made with organic without added salt or refined sugar and no artificial colors, flavors, or preservatives.  Also, Sprout Foods brand of baby foods claims to be the first organic baby food that doesn’t use acid preservatives (implying that Earth’s Best does).  Either way, we can’t all make our baby food or even make it all the time.  So these would be two brands I would research more if I found myself needing to pursue pre-packaged options for time, convenience, or whatever other reason.

If you follow my blog you’ve probably already seen my post on why we chose to avoid rice cereal which listed several alternatives and a Homemade Organic Quinoa Baby Cereal recipe (find it here in case you missed it!).  In addition to the quinoa cereal we had started feeding our little one soft foods from our own plate, including mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, and avocado – all of which were really big hits! So when I went to pick my daughter up from daycare last week and her teacher asked me if she was eating foods at home and proceeds to tell me how she was watching longingly as another child was being fed rice cereal I wasn’t all that surprised.  It provided me with the motivation to head to the Farmer’s Market to buy some delicious, nutritious, locally sourced, organic fruits and veggies and seek out inspiration for creative baby food recipes so that I could start really feeding my child a wider variety of food and even sending some to school with her.

Probably my biggest source of inspiration for baby food recipes is the blog Baby Foodie. I swear she must be a trained chef in addition to being supermom.  My mouth was literally watering as I was reading through many of the recipes listed on her page and I couldn’t wait to get into the kitchen and start cooking for my baby! So check out her website, buy her book, and show her some love!

So, down to it.  Here are the recipes that I made over the past weekend.  They are NOT my original recipes and I’ve cited the source for each one below it.  All told, I’ve got over a month’s worth of freezer meals for my baby from these recipes alone.

1. Mashed Bananas – Okay, so this one I didn’t need a recipe for.  We buy organic bananas from Costco and had mashed some up fresh for our little one, which she loved! But the bananas had started to get soft so we quickly peeled back the peels and started smashing! Once we got them to a consistency we liked we portioned them up into individual portions using freezer trays and froze the rest so that they didn’t spoil.

organic applesauce

2. Organic Applesauce – I wanted to make Homemade Healthy Teething Biscuits (see my post on DIY & Natural Teething Solutions for recipe) and it called for organic applesauce as one of the ingredients.  I remembered making an applesauce when we first got the Vitamix so I returned to my old Vitamix Obsession Pinterest board for a tried and true recipe.   This one I found from Real Food Tastes Good: One Minute Applesauce.

Organic Applesauce:

Ingredients:

  • 4 medium organic apples (I used 6 small organic apples)
  • pinch of cinnamon (optional)

Directions: Core and slice, or roughly chop, your apples.  If you are using a Vitamix there is no need to peel.  Place chopped apple in Vitamix or food processor.  Add pinch of cinnamon, if desired. Blend until smooth.  Easy Peasy!

*Apples are #1 on the Dirty Dozen list so always make sure to buy organic! 

organic peach puree

2. Organic Peach Pureé – It was peach season at the Farmer’s Market and last year we had stumbled upon peaches from a local orchard that tasted amazing! So naturally this year I had to buy some so that our little one could enjoy them as well! I got the basic instructions for this recipe from Parents.com: How to Make Peach Puree for Babies

Organic Peach Pureé:

Ingredients:

  • 3 medium-large organic peaches

Directions:

  1. In medium pot, bring water to a boil.  Place peaches in boiling water for 45 seconds.
  2. Immediately transfer peaches to bowl of ice water.
  3. Use hands or sharp paring knife to remove skin from peaches.
  4. Slice peaches and remove pit.
  5. Place peach slices in Vitamix or food processor and blend until smooth consistency.

* Peaches are #2 on the Dirty Dozen list so always make sure to buy organic!

  

3. Carrots & Nutmeg Pureé – Carrots are a pretty basic baby food plus they taste pretty sweet on their own so you don’t really need to do much to make your own carrot puree.  But I wanted to jazz them up a bit and found this recipe from Baby Foodie that used Nutmeg and thought that would be pretty tasty! I halved this recipe because it makes about 26 oz and I didn’t think I needed that much with all the other food I was making. I also chose to use fresh grated nutmeg because we had it on hand, so why not!?!

Carrots & Nutmeg Puree:

Ingredients:

  • 2 lbs organic baby carrots (between 90-100) – I used half this many, about 48
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg – I grated fresh nutmeg and just sorta eyeballed it
  • 1/4-1/2 oz liquid – reserved water, breastmilk or formula

Directions:

Steam carrots over med-high heat until tender. It took me about 10 minutes. Transfer carrots to Vitamix or food processor. Add nutmeg and 1/4 liquid at a time, we used breastmilk. Blend until desired consistency. It did take more liquid for this recipe than others. I probably used 1/2 oz or a little more to get to a consistency that I liked and it was still thick enough I had to spoon it out rather than pour from the Vitamix. 

Original recipe from Baby Foodie: Carrots & Nutmeg Pureé 

Green Bean and Parsley Puree

4. Green Bean & Parsley Pureé – We love green beans and they were just starting to come into season when I stopped at the Farmer’s Market to buy produce to use for making baby food so naturally I had to pick some up! We have a variety of green beans growing in the garden this year but started late so they aren’t producing yet.  Wanted to get the little one used to the taste so we she can reap the benefits of home grown veggies too! I bought a quart Ziploc full of the big, flat and wide green beans, they were already cut up, and steamed them all.  I used approximately 2 cups for the puree and the rest I laid flat on a dish to freeze individually to give her as finger foods as well.  Next time we will use beans from the garden!

Green Bean & Parsley Pureé:

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup fresh green beans (I doubled this and used 2 cups)
  • Parlsey – original recipe calls for 1 tsp dried but I chose to use approximately 2 tbsp fresh
  • 1/4 oz liquid – reserved water, breastmilk, or formula

Directions:

Steam green beans and parsley for approximately 8 minutes. Reserve cooking water if desired.  Transfer beans and parsley to Vitamix or food processor. Add 1/4 oz liquid (we used breastmilk but you could use reserved water or formula).  Add more if desired (we found 1/4 cup was plenty). Blend until desired consistency.

Original recipe from Baby Foodie: Green Bean & Parsley Pureé

yellow squash and cilantro puree

4. Yellow Squash & Parsley Pureé – Yellow squash is another favorite at our house.  We have it growing in the garden also but again got a late start so our crop isn’t producing just yet.  Was able to pick some up for pretty cheap at the Farmer’s Market.  The recipe calls for 2 medium squash but the ones I purchased were pretty small so I opted for 4 small squash.  Next time we will use squash from the garden!

Yellow Squash & Parsley Pureé:

Ingredients:

  • 2 medium (or 4 small) yellow squash
  • 2 branches of cilantro
  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • 1/4 oz liquid – water, breastmilk, or formula

Directions:

Preheat oven to 400°. Slice squash into medallions (or half moons if using a less powerful food processor)

Original recipe from Baby Foodie: Roasted Yellow Squash Baby Food Pureé

  
5. Zucchini, Carrots, & Apple Pureé – we love zucchini and wanted to expose our daughter to it so she would enjoy it as much as we do when ours starts growing in the garden! Picked some up at the farmers market and found this great recipe that also included carrots and apples that we had on hand for other recipes! I modified it from the original recipe because I wanted to steam instead of boil the veggies and added breastmilk instead of water. It was surprisingly tasty! 

Zucchini, Carrots, & Apple Puree:

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb zucchini (about 3 medium)
  • 1/2 lb organic baby carrots (about 18-24)
  • 2 organic apples
  • 1/4 oz liquid – water, breastmilk, or formula

Directions:

Place zucchini, carrots and apples in steamer and steam for approximately 10-12 minutes until carrots are tender. Transfer veggies and apples to Vitamix or food processor. Add 1/4 oz liquid, we chose breastmilk but you could use water or formula. Blend until desired consistency.

Original recipe from Picky Eater Blog: Zucchini, Apple, & Carrot Pureé

*Apples are #1 on the Dirty Dozen list so always make sure to buy organic! 

Peach and Raspberry Oatmeal

6. Peach & Raspberry Oatmeal – The wineberries (a variety of raspberry native to North Alabama) that grow wild at my house were beautiful this year and I wanted to incorporate them into some of the recipes for our daughter so she would learn to love their sweet tartness and enjoy picking them off the bushes as much as I do! I had the beautiful peaches that I had purchased at the farmer’s market as well and when I stumbled upon this recipe on Baby Foodie I knew I had to make it as a breakfast option! The original recipe is written for toddlers and is a pureé that is intended to be stirred into prepared oatmeal.  I chose to actually blend the oatmeal up with the fruit to make it a smoother consistency since the little one still has a bit of a gag reflex we are working through. Also, this was quite tasty and the fruit pureé would be a great topping for your own oatmeal in the mornings!

Peach & Raspberry Oatmeal:

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup raspberries
  • 1 cup sliced organic peaches
  • 1 cup old-fashioned oats
  • 2 cups water
  • pinch of cinnamon

Directions:

In small saucepan, bring 2 cups of water to boil.  Add oats and cinnamon and reduce heat to med/low for approximately 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add oatmeal and fruit to Vitamix or food processor and blend until desired consistency (you could also use frozen raspberries and peaches – just make sure to thaw first or heat in medium saucepan on medium heat for 10 minutes until no longer frozen before adding to food processor).

Modified from Baby Foodie: Raspberry & Peach Pureé with Oatmeal

* Peaches are #2 on the Dirty Dozen list so always make sure to buy organic!

Blackberry, Apple, and kale Puree

7. Blackberry, Apple, & Kale Pureé – This was the biggest inspiration for making baby food recipes this past weekend.  When I ran across this recipe on Pinterest I knew I had to make it.  it was ultimately what led me to discover the Baby Foodie website. It smelled so good while steaming and was the most beautiful color palette! Even the water was a beautiful raspberry color – I seriously considered trying to find something white to dye with it, it was that pretty! These ingredients would make a great addition to your morning smoothie!

Blackberry, Apple, & Kale Pureé: 

Ingredients:

  • 2 organic apples (mine were really small so I used 3)
  • 1 cup blackberries
  • 1 cup organic kale, chopped – the original recipe calls for baby kale, if using regular kale make sure to de-stem it first
  • 1/2 cup liquid – reserved water, breastmilk, or formula

Directions:

Layer apples, blackberries, and kale (in that order) in steamer basket and steam for 10 minutes.  Reserve cooking water if desired.  Transfer apples, blackberries, and kale to Vitamix or food processor.  Add liquid (we used breastmilk but you could use reserved water or formula if you preferred) 1/4 oz at a time.  Blend until desired consistency. (Even though the original recipe calls for 1/2 cup liquid we liked the texture using only 1/4 cup and chose not to add any more)

Original recipe from Baby Foodie: Blackberry, Kale, & Apple Pureé

* Apples are #1 and Kale is an added item on the Dirty Dozen Plus list so always make sure to buy organic!

 

I made each of the recipes above and portioned them out in individual serving sizes using baby food freezer storage trays.  After they were frozen I removed the portions from the tray and stored in ziploc bags in the freezer.  This way I can take out one portion at a time without wasting too much food.  I can easily send a portion to school with my daughter in a reusable container that they can serve directly out of and cut down on waste.

In addition to the recipes above I also froze some of the food that my husband and I made for ourselves over the weekend. We steamed some of the rest of the squash with some carrots and onions which I pureéd and froze, mashed sweet potatoes and a vegetable medley which I poured on a plate and froze for finger food. All in all we have over a months worth of baby food from one weekend! 

**What I’ve learned is silicone is by far the superior material for freezing individual portions.  It’s super easy to peel the silicone back and pop the frozen portion out with no mess or fuss.  There are a variety of different options out there for silicone trays and I’m sure any would work well.  The brand that I learned that hard way that I do not recommend is the Munchkin Click Lock Fresh Food Freezer Trays.  Mine were a gift and if I would’ve known what a pain in the ass they would be I would’ve returned them for a different brand.  The reviews on this product mirror my complaint which is that the food is nearly impossible to get out.  It can be done by rubbing coconut oil in the tray before you pour the food in and by running hot water on the back of the tray to loosen it up a bit but I still had to use a knife to pop the food out.  DON’T BUY IT! If you are opposed to silicone for some reason and simply must have a harder plastic I’ve heard that the Fresh Baby So Easy Baby Food and Breast Milk Trays as well as the Mumi & Bubi Solids Starter Kit Baby Food Freezer Food Storage Trays are easier to use but can’t vouch for them personally.

Want to know more about eating organic and the Dirty Dozen list? Check out EWG’s Dirty Dozen and Clean Fifteen lists to get you started!

Want to make all the recipes!?!  Here’s a shopping list to get you started!

Shopping List: 

Fruits:

  • Organic Bananas (1 bunch)
  • Organic Apples (8 medium or 11 small)
  • Organic Peaches (4-5)
  • Blackberries (1 cup)
  • Raspberries (1 cup)

Veggies:

  • Organic Baby Carrots (2 1/2 lbs)
  • Green Beans (1-2 cups)
  • Yellow Squash (2 medium or 4 small)
  • Zucchini (3 medium)
  • Organic Kale (1 cup)

Whole Grains:

  • Old Fashioned Oats (1 cup)

Spices & Seasonings:

  • Fresh Parsley (< 1 bunch) – can substitute 1 tsp dried
  • Fresh Cilantro (<1 bunch)
  • Cinnamon
  • Nutmeg


What did you think of this post? I’d love to hear your comments! Do you have favorite homemade baby food recipes you’d like to sure? Comment below! 


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DIY & Natural Teething Solutions for the Natural Family

My little girl is growing up… I’m not sure I’m quite ready for this yet.  But there’s nothing I can do to slow it down so I am bracing myself for all that is to come.  Currently, we are teething.  Honestly, we’ve been pretty lucky so far compared to some of the mamas in my beloved Sugar Plums support group.  When we went to the pediatrician for her 4 month checkup I mentioned that I thought she was teething.  My pediatrician, who is pretty conservative with recommendations (which is one of the reasons we chose him – but sadly he’s not super hip on homeopathic or naturally minded interventions), assured me that all babies drool and chew on things like she had been and that it could be a couple weeks or months before she started “officially” teething.  Well in this case, Mommy was right.  2 weeks later her first tooth was visible.  1 week after that it had already cut through and her second tooth was visible.  She’s currently 5 1/2 months and both teeth are well on their way and I suspect that the top two teeth won’t be too far behind either.  We’ve been lucky to have very little irritability or sleep disturbances, no fever, and none of the diaper rash that is commonly associated with teething babies so far.  But I can tell she is uncomforable and while it was initially okay to let her gnaw on our fingers or hands those new little teefers are sharp! So we’ve been trying to find natural teething solutions to help her out.  Today I thought I would share some of the things we’ve been doing with you!

 

teething oil

1. Homemade Teething Oil – Given my love of essential oils, one of my first strategies to help alleviate some of the discomfort that my little one was having as a result of cutting new teeth was to turn to my go-to resource for essential oils and babies: Gentle Babies by Debra Raybern.  In the book, she suggests using Orange, Frankincense, or Copaiba oil diluted 1:30 with a carrier oil applied directly to the affected area.  I had Frankincense on hand as one of the Everyday Oils collection I got as part of Young Living’s Premium Starter Kit (message me for more information on how to get your new and improved Premium Starter Kit and wholesale membership!) and I had an empty 5 ml amber glass bottle (which holds an estimated 100 drops) so I put 3 drops of Frankincense in the bottle and almost filled the bottle with olive oil as my carrier oil (I figured this was easier than dropping out 33 drops of my carrier oil but feel free to be more exact if you’d like).  Olive oil is a key ingredient in our regular recipes in our home so figured it would be a good oil to get her used to tasting.  Plus, I figured it might taste better than the Frankincense and mask the flavor better than say coconut oil.  But you could use a carrier oil of your choice.  I just rub a little of the Teething Oil on my finger and let her gnaw on me for a min to get the oil to the affected area.  It does seem to provide some relief.  I wish I had Copaiba (now available as part of the new PSK and on my wish list for sure!) to help boost the power of the frankincense and provide added relief.

 

DIY Beeswax Wood Sealant

2. DIY Beeswax Wood Sealant for Wooden Teething Rings and Toys – You’ve probably seen the wooden teething rings and toys that are available online and through local boutiques.  They are really popular among the crunchy granola parenting crowds.  In fact, one of my best friends bought me this great organic wood owl rattle that had been treated with organic jojoba oil/beeswax polish.  It’s beautiful and we love it! (You can buy the same rattle here) But of course I thought to myself, surely I can DIY some sort of similar all natural wood sealant and create my own wooden teething rings and toys.  So I set out to the amazing Google and found a recipe  from The Modern DIY Life blog that worked beautifully!

DIY Beeswax Wood Sealant:

Ingredients/Supplies:

  • Olive Oil – We use the Kirkland Signature Organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil from Costco
  • Beeswax – I prefer the Beeswax Pastilles from Mountain Rose Herbs because they melt really easily, but you could shave off bits from a solid block if that’s what you have on hand
  • Double Boiler
  • Glass Storage Container or Jar with Lid
  • Wooden Teething Rings (or toys) – I bought my untreated wooden teething rings here from Amazon

Directions:

The basic recipe is 1 part beeswax to 3 parts olive oil (although you could use jojoba or another oil if you preferred).  You want to combine your beeswax and olive oil in double boiler, stirring occasionally, until thoroughly melted.  Dip your teething rings or wooden toys into oil/wax mixture and set out on wax paper to dry.  Pour the remainder sealant in your glass container for future usage.  I used a paper towel to wipe off excess sealant and rub the rest into the wood really well.  When it is no longer wet to the touch you are done! Now you can use the toy or make a craft with your finished product.  See the next two teething solutions for ideas of what you can do with natural wooden teething rings! 

Teething Necklace 1 Teething Necklace 2

3. DIY Teething Necklace – This is a necklace that you wear while holding baby, nursing, or even babywearing.  Not only does it give them something to fidget with and help entertain them but it is made using wooden teething rings (sealed using the sealant recipe above) so it is perfect for those new little chompers to gnaw on!  Mine was inspired by these on Etsy! So if you don’t want to DIY it, go on over to Life Circles Necklaces and order you one (she also sells Baltic Amber necklaces – see below for more info)!

DIY Teething Necklace:

Supplies:

  • Wooden Teething Rings, sealed using recipe above
  • Donut gemstone bead – I get mine at Fire Mountain Gems.  Since my Pepperlonely wooden teething rings had an inside opening of 38 mm I purchased a donut bead (I used Labradorite because it’s one of my favorites!) that was 30 mm in diameter to make sure it would fit
  • Organic bamboo, cotton, or hemp cord

Directions:

I cut a length of cord a little longer than I wanted it.  I looped it through itself around the donut and tied a knot around the teething ring.  Tie a knot at the end.  Easy Peasy! Honestly, I wish my cord was a bit thicker.  I expect that it will eventually break.  I may actually try braiding pieces to have a thicker cord.  You can also had wooden or silicone beads to the cord to jazz it up a bit!

Teething Necklace 3 

She had no problem figuring out what this necklace was for! Perfect jewelry for babywearing! 

 

 

wooden teether

4. DIY “Rabbit Ear” Wooden Teether – I kept seeing these awesome “rabbit ear” wooden teethers on etsy and on the Aden & Anais swaddle b/s/t Facebook groups online (I’m a total A&A junkie!  We especially love the bamboo swaddles!) and thought surely these can’t be that hard to make!  I made mine up as I went, but here is a great step by step tutorial I found on Pinterest.

DIY “Rabbit Ear” Wooden Teether (with optional Crinkle)

Supplies:

  • Pattern
  • Material for “Rabbit Ears” – I chose a patterned cotton for the front and Minky for the back, both of which were scraps from other projects.  You could use pretty much anything you had on hand. I’d consider using terry or fleece for the back and have seen super cute teethers made out of muslin swaddle scraps! Or if you had wrap scrap materials on hand you could make a teether to match your favorite babywearing wrap!
  • Crinkle material (optional) – I upcycled the packaging from baby wipes.
  • Teething ring, sealed using sealant recipe above
  • Sewing Machine – although I suppose you could sew it by hand… I wouldn’t want to
  • Thread, Pins, Scissors, etc.

Directions:

  1. I started by drawing out a pattern on a paper bag (I always use paper bags to create my patterns on – it’s a great way to upcycle plus it’s tough enough you can draw, erase, and pin to your fabric while cutting without it tearing apart).  My pattern is about 12″ long, about 2.25-2.5″ wide in the middle with the “ears” being about 3″ wide and about 3″ from tip to where it narrows in the middle.  Honestly, in hindsight, I’ll probably lengthen the pattern a bit and make it a bit skinnier in the middle next time I make one.  Feel free to play around with the dimensions.
  2. Cut your fabric and crinkle material using the pattern.  Place your fabric together “right side” to “right side.” Pin it together with the crinkle material behind the “wrong side” of one of your pieces of fabric.  Do NOT put the crinkle material in between your fabric as you want it on the inside when you turn your rabbit ears rightside out.
  3. Use your sewing machine (or sew by hand) to sew around the edges of your material using a 1/4″ seam allowance.  Leave a section open on one of the ears.  Flip your fabric rightside out through the opening.  You may need a pencil or something to help you get the points of the ears situated right.  Close opening – I chose to sew it up by hand.
  4. Use your sewing machine (or sew by hand) to stitch around the outside of the fabric, leaving a 1/4″ seam allowance, to give it a finished look.
  5. Loop the fabric around the teething ring and pull the ears taught

** If you have a serger you could actually serge the edges of the material together instead of all the sewing and flipping rightside out that I did.  But I don’t have a serger and honestly don’t sew enough to justify the cost.  However, I’ve seen really cute teethers made this way.

 

teething biscuits

5. Homemade Teething Biscuits – They aren’t super pretty but they are super healthy and avoid all the junk in store-bought teething biscuits – like enriched flour (which means they have to add back in nutrients like calcium, iron, and zinc), sugar, or preservatives like tocopherols.  I found lots of teething biscuit recipes on Pinterest (my go-to resource for all things DIY) but really liked the recipes I found on Mama Natural’s blog.  To see the original recipes, check out her blog post How To Make Healthy Teething Biscuits.

Basic Teething Biscuit Recipe:

Ingredients:

  • 1 c. rolled oats
  • 1 c. steel cut oats (grind oats in blender till they’re a flour consistency)
  • 1 c. organic apple sauce – I made my own (see my DIY Baby Food Recipes blog post for directions and other recipe ideas!)
  • 2 TB maple syrup
  • 1/4 c. coconut oil
  • 1/2 tsp each of cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp aluminum-free baking powder
  • 1/4 c. unsweetened shredded coconut (optional – I left this out)

Substitutions:

Use 1 cup mashed bananas or pumpkin puree instead of apple sauce

Directions: 

Mix dry ingredients. Add in applesauce (or banana or pumpkin puree), vanilla extract, syrup, and melted oil. Mix well with spoon. I formed shapes I liked – the original author suggests “date-like” shapes but I preferred to make little rectangles, onto a greased baking sheet.  I greased with coconut oil but you could also use parchment paper. Bake at 350F for 30-45 minutes, depending on your oven. Make sure to flip them halfway through so that you have a nice golden crisp on both sides of the biscuits. The original author suggests that you store in uncovered dish for at least 24 hours which will harden them further. You can also put in freezer and serve cold for extra teething relief!

**The little one LOVES the teething biscuits! And honestly, they taste good enough for me to eat like a cookie! Feel free to modify the recipe to make healthy cookies for the whole family! 🙂

 

amber necklace

6. Baltic Amber Necklaces (or Bracelets) – I’ve left the Baltic Amber necklaces for last because there will inevitably be some skeptic who yells at me about them stating that not only do they not work but they are dangerous.  So I’ll share what I know, including the pros and cons that I’ve researched and trust that you will do your own research and make the decision that best fits with your family’s beliefs and needs.  So here goes!

First off, lets address a common misconception: Baltic Amber teething necklaces are NOT for the baby to chew on.  If they can chew on the necklace, it’s too long!

Proponents of Baltic Amber teething necklaces will tell you that Baltic Amber has an analgesic and anti-inflammatory properties, is electromagnetic and produces natural organic energy, is anti-microbial, contains antioxidants that help fight free radicals, has a slight sedative effect, and activates the solar plexus and root chakras.  Now you may immediately write it off as hippy propaganda and while the science is debatable there is some truth to these statements. First off, the Baltic Amber teething necklaces are thought to work on one of two mechanisms:

1) Baltic Amber contains succinic acid (true) which is suggested to have the analgesic and anti-inflammatory effects (some evidence – mostly anecdotal but there are a few, and far between, empirical studies researching this claim).  Succinic acid is a natural ingredient in many fruits and vegetables (true) and an additive in many vitamin supplements and food products (true).  Also known as Succinate, succinic acid can often be found as an ingredient in OTC supplements used to treat arthritis and joint pain (true).

  • Proponents of the Baltic Amber teething necklaces suggest that when the amber is worn against the skin the body heat activates the succinic acid which is then absorbed by the skin and has an analgesic effect.  There is no doubt that amber does indeed contain succinic acid but the question arises as to whether body heat is sufficient to release the succinic acid and/or whether or not the succinic acid can be absorbed through the skin to have the same affect as taken internally as a dietary supplement.

2) Baltic Amber has an electromagnetic charge (true) which reduces pain and inflammation (debatable). There are a great deal of products on the market that claim to use electromagnetic energy to reduce pain (true).  But some studies claim that there is no significant reduction in pain using electromagnetic pulses and may, in fact, contribute to electro-sensitivity (true).

  • When amber is rubbed it does tend to produce an electromagnetic charge which will attract light bodies and magnetic iron ore.  Ancient Greeks suggested that when rubbed long enough amber would even produce an electric spark.  The question becomes, however, whether or not the rubbing of amber against the skin produces enough electromagnetic energy to be comparable to electromagnetic pulse therapy.

But the anecdotal evidence is strong. Baltic Amber specifically is a resin from pine trees that grew in Northern Europe around the Baltic sea as many as 300 million years ago.  It is harvested from the Baltic Sea floor by scraping the floor with nets and collecting the resin from tangles in seaweed and sand at ebb-tide. Baltic Amber has been used throughout history for pain management.  It is highly prized among the Nordic people, Celts, Mediterranean peoples, Arabs, Egyptians, Chinese  and Greeks for it’s beauty as well as healing properties. Those who subscribe to the idea of Chakras claim that it helps balance the Chakras by filling the body with vitality, alleviating stress, and drawing disease out of the body.  Because it is non-toxic, mother’s have been using Baltic Amber to treat teething pain for many years.

Risks with using Baltic Amber teething necklaces: I would be remiss if I did not address the risks involved with using Baltic Amber teething necklaces.  These are definite concerns and the biggest argument against using teething necklaces on babies and children.  As a result of the risks below Canada and Australia now require warnings on amber teething necklaces and France and Switzerland have even outlawed their sales in pharmacies.

  • Strangulation – the most common cited example of strangulation hazards and teething necklaces comes out of Australia where a young mom let her daughter sleep in her amber necklace and went to wake her from a nap to find that the toddler had gotten her arm twisted up in her necklace and cut her airway off.  Thankfully the mother found her daughter in time and she did not suffer any lasting consequences of the very scary event.
    • Some proponents of Baltic Amber teething necklaces will tell you their child sleeps in their necklace nightly and not to worry.  You can find blogs and forums all over the internet with similar stories of no harm done.  They argue that teething pain is still painful while their child is sleeping and that they want their child to benefit from the jewelry 24/7. But realistically, it only takes once and those who are proponents but advocate for safe use of Baltic Amber jewelry will suggest removing necklaces at night and during nap time, as well as any time your child is not directly supervised.  They suggest if you want your child to wear the necklace 24/7 to remove it from the neck and place it wrapped around your child’s ankle under a sock or in footed pajamas during nap and night time.
    • However, a correctly fitted Baltic Amber teething necklace would not allow enough room for a child to get their arm up under the necklace.  Find out how to get the proper fit here.
    • Some retailers also offer bracelets and anklets as suitable alternatives.
  • Choking hazard – amber teething necklaces do contain lots of small beads, this is true.  Therefor it is a logical conclusion that small parts = choking hazard.  If a child were to swallow several small amber beads all at once there is a definite risk of choking.
    • However, a well designed genuine Baltic Amber teething necklace from a reputable retailer is knotted in between each bead.  The idea being that the string would break if pulled hard enough, thus reducing the risk of strangulation, and if so only a single bead would fall from the necklace leaving the remainder knotted on the string, thus reducing the risk of choking hazard.

For what it’s worth: In my investigating the pros and cons, risks and benefits of Baltic Amber teething necklaces, I could not find a single documented death from either strangulation or choking related to wearing an amber necklace. That doesn’t mean the risks are worth considering when making the best, informed choice for your family but it is food for thought.

My little one has worn her Baltic Amber teething necklace every day since she was 12 weeks old.  She is now 24 weeks old, has cut both of the lower two front teeth and is working on cutting one, or both, of her two front upper teeth as we speak.  Compared to some of the other mothers I’ve met, my daughter seems to suffer much less from teething symptoms than other children her age.  She does drool some but not as much as others, is sometimes a little fussy (who wouldn’t be?) but is easily consoled with one of the above mentioned methods, never turns away the boob or solid foods, doesn’t tug on her ear as is common with teething pain, has had very little sleep disruption, and doesn’t have the often associated symptoms of diarrhea or diaper rash.  Overall, we love our Baltic Amber necklace (I actually have an adult sized amber necklace that I love as well) and I recommend any parent of a teething infant or toddler to do the research on them as a viable, natural alternative to medications like Tylenol for teething pain management.

For more information on Amber Teething Necklaces visit Amber Artisan’s website.  I did not buy our teething necklace from them, it was a gift, but they do have a beautiful selection of different genuine Baltic Amber necklaces, bracelets, anklets and other jewelry.  There are also tons of websites that give anecdotal evidence of the pain relief provided by Baltic Amber.

For a skeptic’s perspective visit Science Based Medicine.

 

7. Other Not-So-Natural Teething products we love:

  • Terry Cloth Teethers – Ask any grandmother or mother over the age of about 50 what they used when their children were teething and almost unanimously they will tell you they put a damp washcloth in the freezer and pulled it out for their children to chew on.  But we were gifted a Sassy Terry Teether that is shaped like a bunch of grapes.  It is designed to be wet and put in the freezer just like grandma’s remedy.  It is also available in a watermelon shape but we prefer the grapes because the little grape knobs are easy to chew on.

sassy grapes

  • Baby Banana Teethers, available as a banana or a corn cob (we have the corn cob) – this was one of those things that one of my Sugar Plum mamas, from my internet support group, said “go buy” and nearly all 120 members rushed out to buy right away, it’s that awesome! Seriously, they should give us compensation! This is a BPA-free, silicone teether toothbrush that is not only great to chew on but helps remove plaque and tarter from those little chompers to help promote good oral hygiene even before they can say “toothbrush!”  You can buy them as a set or separately.  Here they are together on Amazon: Baby-Banana-Brush-Bundle-Cornelius

banana corn cob teethers

So that’s that! What are some of your favorite teething home remedies, natural or not-so? Share below to keep the conversation going!

*These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA. Products and techniques mentioned here are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. Information here is in no way intended to replace proper medical help. Consult with the health authorities of your choice for treatment.