Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Spiced Apple Pancakes

The base for this recipe comes from Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon, p. 478. Not gonna lie, this book is the best thing to happen in my nutritional life. These pancakes are the second best thing.

Makes 16-20
2 cups freshly ground spelt, kamut, or whole wheat flour (I use whole wheat, and sometimes buckwheat)
2 cups buttermilk, kefir, or yoghurt (I use kefir)
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 tsp. sea salt

1 tsp. baking soda
2 tblsp. melted butter

Soak flour in buttermilk, kefir or yoghurt in a warm place for 12-24 hours. (Those with milk allergies may use 2 cups filtered water plus 2 tablespoons whey, lemon juice or vinegar in place of the buttermilk, kefir or yoghurt.) Stir in other ingredients and thin to desired consistency with water. (I never thin my batter. We love fat pancakes!) Cook on hot, oiled griddle or cast-iron skillet, (really any frying pan you have available will do fine, just don't forget to butter it.)

To this recipe I add:

2-3 tsp. cinnamon

A dash of nutmeg (sometimes I add this, sometimes I don't)
And one or two coarsely chopped apples, depending on how many apples you want in your pancakes
I've also used peaches with DELICIOUS results

As with all pancakes, top with generous amounts of butter, coconut oil, or any kind of nut butter, syrup, raw whipped cream, raw honey, or plain yoghurt. ENJOY!

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Why I am Choosing Home Birth

I know this is a sensitive subject, and for the right reasons! Giving birth is a very personal moment in a woman’s life, and the decision of how she does so should be entirely up to her. I want to emphasize that I am sharing here my reasons for choosing to give birth at home, but I’m not trying to convince anyone. Here are four questions that I have been asked regarding my decision, and some brief answers outlining my most basic feelings (sans statistics, which I can share later). I could write a few posts per question! I’m sure my sister authors (who have all chosen natural births) could as well. Forgive me if I failed to be succinct enough:

Question 1: Isn’t it unsafe to have a baby outside of a hospital?
Women have been having babies without hospitals since the dawn of man (and still today), and the race survives. Would God or nature design a female body that could conceive a child without medical intervention, nurture it in the womb and after its birth, but not safely deliver it? Of course there are rare exceptions, when a woman does need medical intervention if she and her baby are to make it through labor in safety, just as there are some women who do need to turn to medical science for aid in conception. But the exception remains rare. I believe --- and there are thousands of birth stories to back this up --- that my body will know how to have this baby. It will know what positions I should take, what relief I can seek, and when it is safe for the baby to emerge. Birth is a normal physiological process, and not a medical procedure.

Question 2: What if there is an emergency?
In the event of a true emergency, which my highly experienced midwife would be able to identify in plenty of time, we can move to the hospital to finish the labor. Because of my healthy pregnancy, and good nutrition, such a transfer is highly unlikely.

Question 3: Aren’t you afraid of the pain?
No. And I’m not making that up! I have seen the pain of labor first-hand, and know what I am in for. But I am not afraid of it, which is an incredibly empowering feeling. Our nation’s culture cultivates fear of labor in girls and young women their whole lives (especially via movies and television where only the worst-case-scenario is sensational enough to get viewers’ attention), so that by the time they are ready to have a baby they automatically default to taking drugs for pain relief. I know there will be pain, but I am training myself now in ways to bear it peacefully --- and even to embrace it. The pain of labor isn’t like the pain of a broken ankle that says, “This is bad. Something is wrong. Stop whatever you’re doing.” It is, as I recently discussed with a ballerina friend, like the pain of stretching. “This is good. This is telling me to relax and let my body expand. Keep doing this… you’re making progress.” (I'll write another post about labor pain, and why I chose it, once I've actually experienced it. :)

Question 4: Ok, that’s kind of crazy you don’t just want to avoid the pain of labor, since it’s possible. But why not just have your baby in the hospital and refuse the drugs?
This is a long answer, and I’ll write later in more detail. The bottom line is that I am a little spoiled. I have spent my entire pregnancy in the comfort of my home, with food and water available whenever I wanted it, with a warm bath standing by when I needed a bit of relief, and with a big bed where my husband can wrap his arms around me for support and comfort. I’ve spent it in a place where I have total control over what I do with my body, over who walks through the doorway and over who touches me. Never a stranger… but always someone with whom I have a relationship of trust and love (including my midwife). Why should I throw all of this away at the most crucial moment? Though labor may mean dreadful pain and fatigue, when it is over I will still be here, where it all started, with my newborn lying on my chest (not down the hallway) and with his father by our side.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Feeding the Littles in your Life

We got an e-mail this week that asked for meal recommendations for toddlers.  I've been meaning to do a post about how to help your children want to eat healthy food, so I'll include some specifics of what are some meal options.

I really love food.  Eating and talking about food are two of my favorite activities.  I think there are few "daily legacies" we could leave with our children that are as important as teaching them how to fuel their bodies with wonderful, delicious, fresh food from the diverse bounty that God has given us for our health and enjoyment.

I fully recognize that every child is different and every parent is different--below you will simply see what has worked for me. And while all of these approaches have worked for us, it's not always easy and there's still plenty of progress we need to make.

Please share in the comments what has helped your children get excited about different food, and some tasty foods for tots.  Here are some tips from my personal experience.
  • Start young.  As soon as my boys are old enough to hold onto something and put it in their mouth, I hand them fruits and veggies.  A baby that puts everything in his mouth will also put a carrot, celery, broccoli, apple or whatever you hand him in his mouth (of course, don't give them anything so small they can put it all in their mouths and choke).  Veggies are great for teething babes.  I've never met a baby who didn't enjoy destroying a broccoli. 
  • Feed them what you're eating.  I never bought baby food, and I never really made anything different for my baby than we were eating.  When my first son showed an interest in eating, I tried to give him the baby cereal.  He would have none of it.  Then I tried it and found out why.  I started introducing foods to him slowly as recommended, but he didn't show a bad reaction to anything, so from then on I just fed him what I was eating.  The best invention ever is a baby food mill.  It's cheap (especially when compared to baby food!), easy, portable, etc.

    • Be excited about food.  For my 14 month old, I just stay happy and positive and expect him to like everything.  For my three year old, if he says he doesn't want his food, I say, "Oh great, can I have it?  I love it!"  That's usually enough to make him change his mind.  My parents are great food enthusiasts.  I always had the attitude growing up that if I didn't like something, it was okay because if I kept trying it, I'd like it as an adult because my parents liked everything. Worked for me with bell peppers and mushrooms.
    • Involve your child in the kitchen and garden.  I know, it's SO HARD!  We start dinner prep around 3:00 at our house.  It's a pretty big deal.  We have a stool for my older boy, and I usually end up wearing #2 most of the time.  If children are involved in the creation of beautiful food, they're more likely to try it.
    • Snitching is OK.  Well, depends on the kind of snitching.  At our house, the boys are always allowed to snack on raw vegetables.  While we're cooking, none of us can help but snack a bit.  And since I'm always cooking with lots of veggies, that's what we snack on.  I'm not worried he's going to fill up on vegetables and ruin the rest of his appetite.  And you know how it is--if you're hungry around 5:00 and you haven't eaten anything, even a raw broccoli is going to be pretty good.
    • If you don't want your kids to eat something, don't have it in your house.  At a pretty young age, kids understand "all gone."  If you are worried about their peanut butter/hot dog/mac 'n cheese consumption, give it all to a neighbor.  Then you can take your tot on a house tour and show them there are no hot dogs in the house.  He/she will just have to find something else to eat.
    • Your child won't starve him/herself.  It's important for your children to see that you're not going to make a special meal for every member of the family because of certain likes or dislikes.  Children need repeated exposure to some foods before they start liking them.  Offer to them what you're having.  Leave it on their tray/plate.  Let them explore the food and get a little dirty.  If they go to bed without having as much dinner as they would normally have, they'll have a good breakfast in the morning!  (I especially don't worry about nursing babies or toddlers getting enough food.)  
    • Stick to your guns.  Sit down with your spouse and figure out the rules of your house concerning food.  Do your children have to finish everything on their plate?  Do they have to eat their vegetables before the less-healthy portion of the meal?  Before dessert?  Are you going to make something different for everyone?  Some families eat all their vegetables before the rest of the meal is even brought out.  Decide what you're going to do, and then stick to it.  At our house, our 3 year-old has to eat a small portion of everything before he eats anything for a second time.  Perhaps some time we'll let him have a list of three things he never has to eat, but that hasn't been necessary yet.
    For more ideas, you can check out Amy Thompson's article in Edible Wasatch called Raising an Adventurous Eater

    Here are some of my kid's favorite foods.  Please share what your kids love!

    Breakfast- If you start young enough, any baby will love hot oatmeal or porridge with raw milk or almond milk, apples, cinnamon and nutmeg, or any other fresh fruit.  Add a little natural sweetener if you need it, but I think it's tasty as is.  Add flax-seed or other grains and this is a super healthy, filling, tasty breakfast for anyone not too addicted to cold cereal :)
    Lunch- My kids will eat just about anything rolled into a (whole grain) tortilla.  My boys and I could eat a tortilla of tomatoes, brown rice, re-fried or black beans, lettuce, salsa and maybe sour cream just about every day.  If they can't or won't eat lettuce or tomatoes, cut it up really small and mix everything together.  Ben just shares mine, but he'd also eat it from a spoon mashed together.

    Dinner- Two dinners my boys love are vegetable lasagna and any kind of tasty soup with good bread (here's one good soup recipe).
    I was also given a recipe book, "Start Fresh" that has some good ideas for kid food.  I haven't tried many of the recipes, but what I have tried have been good.  I like the book because even the purees look good enough that I'd want to eat them!

    Good luck and happy eating!