Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Kindergarten countdown continues

Only one more week until school begins and Hannah is officially a kindergartner! This time next week my baby girl will be putting her laptop lunchbox in her new princess backpack and heading up to the bus stop.  Crazy.  I can not believe how quickly the last five years have flown by. We have put a lot of thought and preparation into school meals and feel like we have a pretty solid grasp on that aspect of "back to school".  I suppose we won't know for sure until the lunch  box comes home empty.

I am a planner by nature so I have been thinking about what else we can do at home to give Hannah the best school foundation possible.  Rather than one massive post I will break the huge "back to school" subject into bite-size daily topics.

The rest of this week you will find
* how to naturally boost immunity to ward off all those icky kid germs
* how much sleep the average young children needs
* why we eliminated tv from our Monday - Friday lives (and if we have been driven crazy yet)

I am very very close to perfecting the chocolate chip cookie recipe so I'll post that this week as well.  These will be perfect for an after school treat on the first day of school.

What back to school topics have been rattling around inside your heads lately?

Monday, August 30, 2010

Local honey

The honey vendor is back at the farmer's market!  He sells several different types of local honey, bee pollen, and honey products.  We always try to buy local honey for the health benefits:
*  Local honey helps reduce allergies to local flowers and trees. Think of it as a sweet allergy shot.
*  Honey by the spoonful is great for soothing a sore throat.
*  Honey has antioxidant and antibacterial properties that support the immune system.
*  Honey can be used to help speed wound healing.
*  Honey contains a variety of vitamins and minerals.

Honey is our favorite sweetener.  We swirl a bit in hot tea for a comforting healthy drink.  What is your favorite way to use honey?  Do you try to find local honey?

Friday, August 27, 2010

Quest for the perfect chocolate chip cookie

Last year we started several first day of school traditions.  I think Hannah's favorite is the ritual of freshly baked cookies awaiting her return from school.  I like to think she can feel the love baked into the those sweet cookies by her mom, who has missed her all day.  This time last year we were not following a primal eating plan so her first day of preschool cookies were sugar cookies iced with pink royal frosting.  Now that I am aware how food coloring affects Hannah we avoid it at all costs so we need a new cookie for the first day of kindergarten.

I am currently feeling my way through this recipe creation process.  I started with a recipe from Elena's Pantry but couldn't get it to work just right so I tweaked it a bit.  I added more almond flour and an egg, swapped honey for agave nectar, and used table salt instead of sea salt.  The result is okay but nothing spectacular.  Certainly not good enough to share the recipe.

Photo courtesy of http://www.laaloosh.com

Now I am on a mission.  I, along with my trusty spoon-lickers helpers am going to bake the perfect primal chocolate chip cookie!  We are going to brave the I-95 traffic today to forage for more ingredients at Trader Joe's and will report back when we have completed our mission.

What are your favorite qualities in a chocolate chip cookie?  Really soft and squishy?  Crisp enough to dip into coffee?  Extra vanilla or none at all?

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Change of plans

With the first day of school quickly approaching I am reconsidering the way I plan to feed Hannah.  She has become somewhat resistant to bread and pasta free lunches.  Now at home, this isn't a big deal.  I generally have the attitude that what she can eat what is served or choose to wait until her next meal.  However, that approach doesn't sit well with me for school.  I can't stand the thought of Hannah being hungry at school.  As a former kindergarten teacher I want Hannah to be able to concentrate.  She won't be able to do that if her tummy is grumbling.

I don't like the idea of Hannah filling up on lots of bread and pasta through out the day and missing out on important nutrients either.  So I came up with a new plan.  Breakfast and dinner will be 100% primal, lunch and one snack can include one serving of grains.

I am going to be trying a bunch of new breakfast recipes with the kids during this last week of summer vacation to try and find a few that they like.  They are excited about the possibility of daily smoothies.  A smoothie combined with eggs or almond flour muffins should give her the energy she will need to get her through the morning.

This change of menu doesn't compromise my attempts at better nutrition for the kids.  Hannah and Ben have been eating one serving of grains for breakfast daily for a few weeks (down from two servings).  Now the grains will just make their appearance at a different time.  Ideally, they wouldn't eat grains at all but I think kids need to be eased into a new way of eating.

What are your favorite breakfasts?  Do you cook long leisurely breakfasts on the weekends?  Do you have a favorite "special occasion" breakfast?

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Primal puppies

Long before my family started eating mainly natural foods our Australian Shepherd, Betsy, followed a primal diet.  Paul heard about the BARF (Biologically Appropriate Raw Foods) diet and we decided to give it a try. BARF is basically a primal diet for dogs. About 75% of her diet is raw but we do feed her cooked meat when it is more convenient. Betsy has not eaten commercial dog food for over a year and a half.  Honestly, I don't think she would eat it even if it was offered now.

When people hear about Betsy's diet they often worry because  they think dogs shouldn't eat table scraps.  In many households this is true.  Table scraps that consist of bread and sweets are not healthy for people and are certainly not healthy for pets.  Betsy eats 99% meat with the occasional homemade treat.

This way of eating has worked well for Betsy.  She is completely healthy.

What do you feed the furry members of your family?

Tuesday, August 24, 2010


Since eggs have been in the news so much lately I thought I would decode egg lingo for everyone.

Free-range = The USDA requires that chickens that lay "free-range" eggs have access to the outdoors.  However, there is no stipulation to the quality of the environment or the amount of time outdoors.  A factory farm can label its eggs as being "free-range" if there is a door leading to the outdoors even if the chickens never go outdoors.   There are some small farms that do really allow their chickens to roam outdoors but there is no guarantee that is what you are getting unless you can talk to the farmer. 

Cage-free = There is no legal definition of cage-free eggs.  Some farmers do give "cage-free" chickens enough room to stretch their wings but again, you don't know for sure unless you talk to the farmer.

Organic = Organic chickens (and therefore their eggs) must be fed an organic diet, typically non-gmo organic grain.  The chickens must not be given hormones and can only have antibiotics to treat illness (not prevent).  The chickens are also free-range, although you don't know if the chickens ever really go outside.

Vegetarian = The chickens are fed a 100% vegetarian diet.  In my opinion this is not the optimum diet for chickens.  Chickens like to eat grubs and worms (after all they are birds) but these foods are excluded on a vegetarian diet.

Pastured = These chickens are raised outdoors on a natural diet, the way chickens are suppose to live.

I would like to buy pastured eggs but have not found an affordable source.  My farmer's market sells them for $6/dozen.  We buy them occasionally but we go through 2-3 dozen a week so it is not realistic to spend so much money on eggs.  I do not like the definitions of free-range, cage-free, and vegetarian as I think they are either full of loop holes or just plain wrong so I usually buy "regular" eggs.  The "regular" eggs are certainly nothing special but I'm not convinced that the other more expensive grocery store eggs are worth it either.

What type of eggs do you buy?

Monday, August 23, 2010

Recipe round-up

I love to cook so I am always on the look out for new recipes.  These are a few of my favorite recipes recently.

Spinach ricotta bites - These taste like the filling in a white chicken lasagna (just add diced chicken to the recipe).

Spicy chicken and bacon poppers - These are not quite as spicy if they are served cold.  I make homemade ranch dressing to dip.

Stuffed zucchini cheeseburger boats - These are a good use for all the zucchini we have been seeing at the farmer's market lately.

If you try any of these let me know how it turns out.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Primal pancakes

Primal pancakes are a healthy alternative to traditional pancakes.  We actually prefer to make them this way.  They taste better, are healthier, and keep you full longer than other pancake recipes.

I found this recipe on Elena's Pantry website and adapted it to suit our pantry staples.

Primal Pancakes - makes 12 small pancakes (I recommend doubling the recipe for a family)

2 eggs
¼ cup honey
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 ½ cups almond flour*
 ½ teaspoon baking soda
coconut oil for sautéing

  1. In a blender, combine eggs, honey and vanilla and blend on high until smooth.
  2. Add almond flour, baking soda, and a large sprinkling of cinnamon and blend again to incorporate dry ingredients into batter.
  3. Let batter sit for 15-20 minutes to thicken up
  4. Warm coconut oil in a large skillet over medium heat.
  5. Ladle a small amount of pancake batter onto skillet.  I used about an 1/8th of a cup per pancake.
  6. Pancakes will form little bubbles, when bubbles open, flip pancakes over and cook other side
  7. Remove from heat to a plate.
  8. Repeat process with remaining batter, adding more oil to skillet as needed.
I served these yummy pancakes with honey cinnamon butter and maple syrup.

Honey Cinnamon Butter

1 stick unsalted butter, softened

Beat softened butter with a mixer until it is creamy.  Slowly add honey and cinnamon until it seems like enough.  Store in the fridge.

I know, I know.  That is a horrible set of directions.  What kind of recipe doesn't include quantities?  I didn't measure anything when I made this the other night, just eyeballed it.  You can add just enough to make it exactly the way you like it. 

*If you don't have any almond flour in your pantry you can make your own.  Simply grind raw almonds in a coffee grinder until you have a fine powder.  I tried to do this with a food processor and it grind the almonds into a fine enough powder.  

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Primal lunches at the pool

We had a picnic at the pool with friends the other day.  A friend snapped this photo so I thought I would share it.  I had no idea lunch would be photographed so this was definitely a REAL lunch (not at all staged). 
I served leftover turkey burger, kiwi, carrot sticks, cheese sticks, and apple sauce.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Paleo Women Snacks & Granola

Recently I had the opportunity to sample Paleo Women Snacks & Granola.  These granola-like snacks are all natural, wheat and gluten-free, and contain no preservatives.  They have four flavors:  apple crisp, cappucino, banana nut, and cacao nut.  They are a healthier version of granola because they do not contain any oatmeal - the main ingredient in most granolas.

We loved these snacks immediately.  They are the perfect blend of nuts, seeds, dried fruit, and spices.  The apple crisp granola tastes exactly like you would expect apple granola to taste - yummy and slightly sweet.  This was Benjamin's favorite.  He kept running to the kitchen to try and sneak a handful.

The banana nut granola tastes just like banana bread!  I haven't figured out how to make primal banana bread yet so this was a welcome treat.  This is definitely my favorite.

The cappucino granola would be perfect for a die-hard coffee fan.  I tend to like my coffee sweet so this granola wasn't for me or the kiddies. 

The cacao nut granola was different than what I expected.  When I think cacao I think chocolate (sweet creamy chocolate).  This is REAL cacao!  After the shock of the initial bite I started to really enjoy this one too!  This was Paul's favorite.
(Hannah does not have a favorite because she was in a mood and refused to try the snacks)

These treats cost about $3.50 per 5 ounce bag so it won't be an everyday lunchbox item but I will definitely be ordering some.  If you are from Northern VA you know that traffic can pop up out of nowhere and you might be stuck in your car for a few extra HOURS.  This is no fun, especially with young kids.  I like to keep a few snacks in the glove box just in case we spend more time than expected in the car.  If we had to stop at a McDonald's we would easily spend that much money on junk.  This way we don't have to waste our money on stuff that pretends to be food.

Head over to www.paleowomen.com to request your own sample pack and then to place your order.  The granolas are available in a few brick and mortar stores too.  Visit the website to see a complete list of retailers.

If you try them be sure to let me know which flavor is your favorite!

*I did receive these granola snacks for free, but you can too.  Just send them a request.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Staples in the primal pantry

I cook almost every meal and snack for my family so I like to keep my kitchen stocked with the items we use most.  Here are the top 5 items my primal kitchen needs at all times:

1)  Coconut oil - This is my first choice for cooking oils.  Nothing else comes close.

2)  Almonds - This is one of the most versatile foods in my house.  We eat them whole, chop them up to add to recipes, and even grind our own almond flour.  Store them in the freezer to prevent them from going rancid.

3) Bacon - We almost always have nitrate-free bacon (or pig as Hannah calls it) in the house.  A little goes a long way towards imparting flavor on an otherwise bland dish.

4)  Eggs - This is my standard breakfast.  They are frequently an ingredient in many recipes.

5)  Spinach - This is a very versatile leafy green veggie.  I add it to casseroles, saute it, and make it into salads.

What are the staples in your kitchen?

Monday, August 16, 2010

Coconut oil

Coconut oil has earned a permanent spot on my pantry shelves.  It gets a bad rap because it is high in saturated fat but really it should be considered a super food.  Coconut oil is largely made up of lauric acid.  This stuff is practically magical.  Lauric acid is one of the "ingredients" in breast milk. In fact the best two natural sources of lauric acid are breast milk and coconut oil!  Coconut oil offers the most health benefits of any oil.

Benefits of coconut oil:
*  Supports the immune system - it kills viruses, bacteria, and fungus.
*  Helps absorption of vitamin E and K and several minerals (including calcium)
*  Prevents liver disease
*  Prevents kidney and gall bladder diseases
*  Helps control blood sugar
*  Helps prevent heart disease (despite the saturated fats - it does not raise cholesterol!)

Coconut oil can be used in cooking or applied topically. It makes a great 100% natural moisturizer.  I rub a little on any dry patches of skin and by the next morning my skin is as softer than ever.

Have you ever tried coconut oil? 

Friday, August 13, 2010

Homemade ranch dressing

Store bought ranch dressing is full of all kinds of things I don't want to feed my family.  A bottle of Wishbone ranch dressing contains sugar, MSG, Propylene glycol, and tons of other ingredients that I can't pronounce.  Thankfully it is really easy to make ranch dressing at home.

1 cup mayo
1/2 cup plain greek yogurt
2 Tbs. pickle juice
1 tsp. garlic powder
2 Tbs. dried chives
2 Tbs. dried dill
2 Tbs. dried parsley

Mix everything together and taste.  I add various amounts of the above seasonings each time depending on how spicy I want it.  If you want it a bit thinner just add more pickle juice.   I usually use 2 Tbs. pickle juice for dressing but you could omit it and use this as a dip.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Today Show Gluten free

Yesterday the Today Show aired a segment about the gluten-free "fad".  Basically, the expert said that a gluten-free diet is not necessary and has no benefits.  I disagree.  I do not eat grains, so I am gluten-free by default.  I feel so much better without gluten.  Health problems that I would never have even connected to diet have cleared up.

The expert also said that a gluten-free diet is restrictive, expensive, and difficult to follow.  I disagree with these statements too.  Yes, it took a while to get use to the whole no bread and no pasta thing but now I don't even want those foods.  They just don't register as food.  There is a plethora of gluten-free foods found in nature.  Peaches, steak, salmon, apples, and bananas come to mind.  It can be expensive but it doesn't have to be.  All of the foods shown on stage were processed foods, which of course cost more money than fresh foods.  At the grocery store I noticed a gluten-free cake mix for $6.  A pound of grapes is only $.99 this week.  The grapes are more nutritious and much cheaper than the packaged "health" food!  I don't find a diet full of yummy whole foods to be difficult to follow.  If we really want to eat a piece of bread, cake, pizza, whatever we use our 20% fun food budget.

Here is the video clip in case you missed the show.

*There might be an advertisement for margarine before the clip plays.  I DO NOT advocate eating margarine.  It isn't food.

What is your opinion of the gluten-free fad?

(This is my first time embedding a video clip so please let me know if it doesn't work)

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Homemade Lara bars

Have you ever tried a Lara bar?  They are a gluten-free, dairy-free, soy-free, non-gmo, vegan, and kosher energy bar.  Those probably aren't words you associate with a delicious treat but Lara bars are really good. The ingredient lists are super simple and do not contain any added sugar.  For example the peanut butter cookie dough bar has dates, peanuts, and salt.  That is it!  They are a favorite snack around here.  Hannah and Ben have been feigning starvation every time we are in Target so that I will buy them one.  They don't even ask for a candy bar anymore.  They are that good!

The only drawback with Lara bars is that they are $1.50 each.  Multiply that by two kids who eat snack twice a day and that healthy treat adds up quickly.  I decided to try and create my own bars.  Hannah bars?  Benjamin bars?  I'm still not sure what to call them.

We have tried two types of bars so far.  The chocolate covered pecan is a hit!  They are rich and decadent, two of my favorite chocolate qualities.  I cut them into small bites rather than bars because they are so rich.

Chocolate Covered Pecan Bars (makes a 9x9 pan - 8 full size bars)
1 1/2 c. pitted dates
1/2 c. raisins
1 c. pecans
4 Tbs. cocoa powder
1/4 tsp. cinnamon

1)  Put the pecans in a food processor and pulse until finely chopped.  Use some of this to "flour" a 9x9 pan.
2)  Add the rest of the ingredients to the nuts (in the the processor) and process until the mixture starts to come together.
3)  Pour the mixture (will have a play dough-like consistency) into a medium bowl and knead it all together.
4)  Put the mixture into the 9x9 pan and press it down to form a smooth and even layer.
5)  Chill for an hour or so and slice into bars (or bites). Store covered in the refrigerator for up to one week.

We have also tried the cashew cookie dough bars.  These were enjoyed but not as much as the previous recipe. 

Cashew Cookie Dough Bars
1 1/3 c. pitted dates
2 c. raw cashews

1)  Pulse the cashews and dates together in the food processor.
2)  Pour the mixture into a medium bowl and knead together.  Pour into a 9x9 pan.
3)  Chill an hour or so and then slice to the desired size.

I found a few more recipes courtesy of google and adjusted the recipe to make a full pan of bars.  Most recipes only serve 2.  That makes no sense to me.  I want to make a bunch so I have a quick healthy snack on hand for a few days.  I haven't tried these recipes yet but they sound yummy!

Very Cherry Bars
1 c. pitted dates
1 c. dried cherries
1 1/3 c. nuts (of your choosing)
1/2 tsp. cinnamon

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough (contains a small bit of added sugar)
1 1/3 c. pitted dates
2 c. raw cashews
2 tsp. vanilla extract
large pinch of cinnamon
2 oz. semi-sweet chocolate chips

The procedure is the same regardless of the ingredients.  Just give it all a whirl, press into the pan, and chill.

I think these will make a terrific kindergarten snack.  They are a great combination of carbs (from the fruit) and protein (from the nuts) to keep Hannah energized and focused at school.

Have you ever tried Lara bars?  What is your favorite flavor?

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Kindergarten countdown

Exactly one month from now Hannah will be boarding the school bus for the very first time.  She has picked out her princess back pack, a few packs of crayons, and countless outfits.  She is ready.  Me - not so much.  Hannah had a great experience in preschool and I expect that to continue through elementary school.  I am just not ready to relinquish control.  For the past 5 years I have managed every minute of her day.  Now she is some one else's responsibility from 8:30-3:30 Monday - Friday.  While I wrap my mind around that I am trying to plan the last detail that I have control over during the school day - lunch.

I decided awhile ago that Hannah would be packing her lunch the majority of the time.  The school lunch menu caters to the children's wants, not so much their nutritional needs.  Items such as pizza, chicken nuggets, tacos, and grilled cheese are menu staples.  These items can be prepared nutritionally but I highly doubt that this is the case.  As a former teacher, I take education very seriously.  I want Hannah to be able to concentrate at school.  She can't do that if her brain is foggy from food coloring or she is tired from too many carbs.

I decided to buy Hannah the Laptop lunchbox this year.  It is a bit pricy but worth it if she will eat her lunch.  The Laptop lunch  box is designed to be environmentally-friendly (no waste) and child-friendly (food beautifully displayed in child size portions).  I can not wait to start using it.

I want to make a list of lunch box-friendly main course items so I can start filling the freezer.  The children rarely eat sandwiches anymore so that is out.  So far I have:
     1)  mini-meatballs
     2)  hardboiled eggs and bacon
     3)  homemade chicken nuggets
     4)  turkey and cheese roll ups
     5)  crustless quiche bites

Any suggestions?  What were your favorite lunches as a child?

Monday, August 9, 2010

Missing nutrients

When I first heard of the primal diet I was very skeptical.  I  heard all of the public service announcements that whole grains are an essential part of a healthy diet so I was weary of cutting them out completely.  Before I could commit to this way of eating I needed to know what I would be missing.

According nutritiondata.com the main nutrients that corn, oats, rice, and wheat provide are fiber, protein, vitamin A, calcium and iron.  That is pretty much it.  Honestly I thought it would be something that was unique to grains since they are the foundation of the USDA recommended diet.   I  decided to give the primal diet a try and see how I felt.  I have never felt better!

Recently I decided to compare my pre-primal diet with my primal diet.  On the average pre-primal day I would eat:
     breakfast - cereal with milk and orange juice
     lunch - turkey sandwich with chips and an apple
     dinner - spaghetti, salad, and garlic bread
This meal plan provides 59% of the RDA of fiber, 123% protein, 78% calcium, 100% iron, and 84% vitamin A.

Now I eat:
     breakfast - 2 eggs, sauteed veggies, and a peach
     snack - greek yogurt with berries and walnuts
     lunch - a HUGE salad, leftover chicken, and cantaloupe
     dinner - stuffed zucchini and a side salad
     dessert - banana with almond butter
This meal plan is approximately the same number of calories as the previous diet but provides 103% of the RDA of fiber 202% protein, 117% calcium, 81% iron, and 285% vitamin A.  On this particular day I was a bit short on iron but that is it!  All the other nutrients were well above the RDA!

Here is an article that compares the nutrient level of the different food groups.  I think removing breads and pasta and replacing them with fruits and veggies is the way to go!

Friday, August 6, 2010

Coconut chicken nuggets

I think these chicken nuggets taste better than "regular" chicken nuggets.  I plan to make a big batch soon so I can stick some in the freezer.

Coconut chicken nuggets

4 skinless chicken breasts
3 eggs
7 ounce bag of unsweetened flaked coconut
4 Tbs. coconut oil

1.  Preheat a pan to medium heat.  Add the coconut oil.
2.  Slice the chicken to the desired size.
3.  Beat the eggs in one bowl.  Place the coconut in another bowl.
4.  Dip the chicken into the egg.
5.  Coat the eggy chicken with coconut.
6.  Fry the chicken nuggets, turning over as needed until the nuggets are golden brown.
7.  Drain on paper towel.

These are equally good warm and cold.  I think they will be making an appearance in the lunch box this year.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Mandatory breastfeeding

Model Gisele recently stated that breastfeeding should be mandatory worldwide.  Um, I don't think so.  Don't get me wrong, I am all in support of breastfeeding.  It is definitely the primal way of feeding a young child.  However, I am more in support of moms.  I'm sure the majority of paleolithic mothers did breastfeed their babies but I bet there were also circumstances when it wasn't possible.  She had to rely on other mothers to nurse her child.  That is rarely acceptable in America today.

As much as I would love all mothers that want to nurse be able to I don't think our society is set up for it.  Nursing mothers routinely cover their babies or go into separate rooms to feed their babies.  Young girls do not grow up seeing nursing as a normal natural part of the pregnancy cycle.  Breastfeeding is not a skill that is taught by older more experienced family members.

Making breastfeeding mandatory will only make women resent nursing and punish those who aren't physically able to breastfeed.  To really encourage all mothers to breastfeed we need:
     *Longer maternity leave
     *Lactation consultants covered by medical insurance

What are your thoughts on making breastfeeding mandatory? 

Wednesday, August 4, 2010


Not every morsel of food I eat follows the primal eating plan.  I don't consider it a cheat though.  Cheating implies that you are being judged or graded.  You aren't.  The only one you have to answer to is yourself.

I follow the 80/20 principle.  Basically if 80% of my food is meat, veggies, fruits, and good fats than I have room for some "fun" foods.  My 20% is usually chocolate, eating out, or sugar in my coffee.

By following the 80/20 principle I keep myself sane.  If I thought that I could never enjoy a glass of wine or chocolate covered strawberries again I would fall off the wagon very quickly.   This way I know I can eat foods I truly enjoy as long as I use a bit of self-control.

I consider 80% to be the minimum for good health.  We strive for a much higher percentage of healthy foods.  We aim for about 90% by keeping our diets very clean during the week and splurging on Sunday night dinner.  By planning for 90% we have a bit of wiggle room to still be above 80% if we slip up one day.  After you become accustomed to this way of eating you don't want to indulge too much - you just don't feel well.

What are some of your favorite "splurge" foods?

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

World Breastfeeding Week 2010

In honor of World Breastfeeding Week (August 1 - 7, 2010) I thought I would share some of my breastfeeding must haves. 

These are not in any particular order.

1)  Dr. Sears Breastfeeding Book - I loved this book!  I found it to be the most informative breastfeeding book on the market, and I read just about all of them.  I read it cover to cover before Benjamin was born and reread certain chapters over and over while breastfeeding.

2)  Target nursing tank top - A nursing tank top is very handy.  I could layer it under non-nursing tops so that my post-pregnancy stomach wasn't exposed while nursing.  There was just enough fabric to be supportive but not in the way. Other, more expensive, brands did not fit as well.

3)  Sling - I nursed Benjamin many many times while out in public and no one was the wiser.  He was tucked in his sling so most people just assumed he was sleeping.  I even nursed him in the sling at home when he was going through growth spurts and wanted to be attatched to me nonstop.

4)  A supportive husband - There can be a learning curve to breastfeeding.  In the beginning it seems like it takes 3 hands to get the baby correctly latched on.  There were also times that I was tired and felt like giving up and needed someone to remind me that I could do this.

5)  Mother's Milk tea - This tea is full of baby-safe herbs that help stimulate milk production.  I sipped this during growth spurts to help me keep up with demand.

There are also a few things I personally wouldn't buy again.

1)  Nursing pillow - Honestly any pillow will help support the baby.  It was a hassle to move the boppy around so I just used whatever pillow was nearby.

2)  Breast pump - In theory this was a great idea.  For the first 4 months it was helpful.  I could pump and leave Ben a bottle while getting out for awhile.  After three months though, Ben wouldn't take a bottle.  Without the bottle the pump was pretty worthless.  This could be helpful if you don't have a stubborn baby.)

3)  Nursing cover - Nursing covers just seem to draw attention to a nursing baby.  The few times I used a blanket to cover up were the times I received rude comments.  I never had any second glances when I just discreetly positioned my shirt or used the sling.

What did you find helpful (or totally worthless) when nursing?

** These are my own opinions.  I was not compensated in any way for these reviews.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Play kitchen makeover

The other night as I was picking up the kid's play kitchen I noticed something.  There were tons of chips, cookies, and cupcakes on the floor!  We do not usually have these foods in our real kitchen so why should they be in the play kitchen?  I decided to conduct an experiment.

I sorted all of the food into categories:

Junk food

Healthy food

Did you notice that there is more junk food than healthy food in that little kitchen?

I decided to hide all of the junk and see if the kids noticed.  If the kids noticed that some of the toys were missing I planned to give them back.  If they didn't notice then I will put them in the Goodwill bag.  To make the removal of roughly 60% of the food less noticeable I took some time neatly arranging the food and dishes in the kitchen.
It has been a little over one week and the kids haven't noticed that the junk food is missing.  I can safely put it in the Goodwill bag.