Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Eat to Be Green

What you eat can have a bigger impact on environment than car you drive.  Livestock and manure methane alone directly release greenhouse gases equivalent to what’s produced by 33 million cars.  Meat also takes an incredible amount of resources to produce.  Sorry for the crude format, but these were notes I'd jotted down for myself...

  • Takes 7 pounds of corn to add 1 pound of weight to a cow.  66% of grain produced in US goes to feed livestock.

  • One pound of fertilizer is used to produce 3 lbs of cooked beef (to fertilize grain to feed the cow).

  • It takes 4500 gallons of water to produce 4 oz. of raw precooked beef.

  • 1600 calories of fossil fuel energy are needed for every 100 calories of grain-fed beef we eat (compared to 50 calories of fossil fuel energy for every 100 calories of plant food).

  • Eat less meat, or at least switch to organic or pasture- and grass-fed animals.

From Alan Greene's Raising Baby Green.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Alternative Vaccine Schedule

I am very pro-vaccine.  I do not believe, with the recent research, they cause autism.  However, there are documented cases of certain children having various allergic reactions to them, and you always are a little leary to put something foreign into your child’s body.  So, I opted for an alternative vaccine schedule.  In other words, they still receive all recommended vaccines, and pretty close to the traditionally recommended schedule, but just spread out so that they’re not getting loaded up all at once.  You must be willing to go in to the doctor more often (monthly at first, rather than bimonthly), and you must find a doctor willing to accommodate this schedule (hard for some schedules, easy for others).  The classic alternative schedule is put forth by Dr. Sears: 

Dr. Sears’ Alternative Vaccine Schedule

  • 2 months: DTaP, Rotavirus

  • 3 months: Pc, HIB

  • 4 months: DTaP, Rotavirus

  • 5 months: Pc, HIB

  • 6 months: DTaP, Rotavirus

  • 7 months: Pc, HIB

  • 9 months: Polio (IPV)

  • 12 months: Mumps, Polio (IPV)

  • 15 months: Pc, HIB

  • 18 months: DTaP, Chickenpox

  • 2 years: Rubella, Polio (IPV)

  • 2 1/2 years: Hep B, Hep A (start Hep B at birth if any close relatives or caregivers have Hep B)

  • 3 years: Hep B, Measles

  • 3 1/2 years: Hep B, Hep A

  • 4 years: DTaP, Polio (IPV)

  • 5 years: MMR

  • 6 years: Chickenpox

  • 12 years: Tdap, HPV

  • 12 years, 2 months: HPV

  • 13 years: HPV, Meningococcal

I was planning to follow this schedule, however, wasn’t able to find a doctor able to administer some of these single shots.  Often the vaccines come as a package deal, and pediatricians simply do not have them as single-sized doses, thus they’re not an option.  Also, the MMR vaccine is no longer split up, you currently have to give it as the combo. 

Here is another alternative schedule by Dr. Stephanie Cave:

 Hep B

Delay until the year before starting school, although may consider starting the series as early as two and half if considering preschool.

4 mo, 6 mo, 8 mo, 17 mo

IPV (Polio)
4 mo, 6 mo, 8 mo, 17 mo (booster at 4 years)

5 mo, 7 mo, 9 mo, 15 or 18 mo (booster at 4 years)

Pneumococcal (PREVNAR) one dose at age 2

Varicela (Varivax)
Age four, if at all

Mumps – 15 mo
Rubella – 27 mo
Measles – 39 mo
Booster – age 5

After doing some research about WHY one would want to forego the traditional schedule for an alternative one, here are the reasons I found: 

Some vaccines contain aluminum, which could be harmful at high doses.  It is best to spread out the aluminum-containing vaccines (Dtap, HIB, PCV, Hep A, Hep B, HPV).  Vaccines free of aluminum include IPV, MMR, varicella, influenza, and rotavirus.  Some vaccines are considered “reactive” (Hep B, MMR, varicella, influenza) and no two should be given at the same time.  Finally, the only kind of flu-shot that is mercury-free is called Fluzone. 

So, using this information, I came up with an alternative vaccine schedule that avoided giving more than one aluminum-containing vaccine at a time, and avoided giving two reactive vaccines at a time, and that the pediatrician could still accommodate.  Here’s what I came up with: 

MONTH                  VACCINES


       (Dtap, Hep B, IPV = Pediarix), Rotavirus


       HIB, PCV


       (Dtap, Hep B, IPV = Pediarix), Rotavirus


       HIB, PCV


       (Dtap, IPV, HIB = Pentacel)




       Hep B


       PCV, Influenza*


       Hep A, VZ*


       (Dtap, IPV, HIB = Pentacel), Influenza


       MMR, Hep A
4 YEAR       (Dtap, IPV = Kinrix), VZ
5 YEAR       MMR

* can swap influenza and vz if flu shots
            are not yet available

Our pediatrician approved it, so that’s what we’ve been going with.  Good luck!

Monday, February 27, 2012

Spinach in Coconut Milk

This is a Tanzanian dish.

2 lbs. spinach, loosely torn
1 onion, diced
1 cup coconut milk
1 cup diced tomatoes
1 tsp. curry powder
1 cup uncooked rice - cook according to package directions

Boil onion/tomatoes for 5 minutes.  Add spinach and coconut milk.  Bring to a boil, then simmer for 10-15 minutes.  Serve over rice.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Add Plants for Cleaner Air

One of the first things I did when setting up my daughter's nursery was put in a nice lush green houseplant.  I wanted her to breathe air that was as clean as possible.

NASA study found the following indoor plants were most effective in removing formaldehyde, benzene, and carbon monoxide from the air:

  • Bamboo palm

  • Chinese evergreen

  • English ivy

  • Gerbera daisy

  • Janet Craig Dracaena

  • Marginata Dracaena

  • Mass cane/corn plant (Dracaena)

  • Mother-in-law’s tongue

  • Pot mum (Chrysanthemum)

  • Peace lily

Also - make sure you air out the house (open the windows up) as often as possible, to let toxins out and fresh air in!

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Vegetarian Breastfeeding

I am a vegetarian, as those of you who have read about me know.  When I was pregnant with my daughter, I did some research to make sure she was getting adequate nutrition from me since I was breastfeeding. I came across some articles I found quite interesting, and thought, in case any of you were in the same boat, I would share them here:

The milk of vegetarian mothers is lower in environmental contaminants than the milk of non-vegetarian mothers. Environmental contaminants are stored mainly in fat. Vegetarian diets tend to be lower in fat than those containing animal products, so there is less transfer into human milk.

Even though one study showed vegetarian mothers tend to consume less calcium than other mothers, levels of calcium in human milk were not affected. This is believed to be caused by the fact that vegetarians consume less protein and therefore need less calcium.

Source: La Leche League International


New EnglandJournal of Medicine, March 26, 1981, p. 792

Being a strict vegetarian is beneficial from cradle to grave. Twenty-four breast-feeding mothers were studied, twelve who were strict vegetarians (using no animal products in their diet), and twelve on a conventionalUnited Statesdiet. The strict vegetarian diet was from legumes, grains, fruits, and vegetables. Samples of breast milk were studied from each of the twenty-four women. The samples were analyzed for seventeen different chemical substances. Similar lipid levels were found in the twenty-four samples, an average of 4.23%, with a range of lipids from 1.23% to 7.40%. Most dramatic were the findings in contaminant levels. For every contaminant except polychlorinated biphenyls, in which there was no strong difference between the two groups, there was not even an overlap of ranges, the highest vegetarian value always being lower than the lowest value obtained in the control group.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Genetically - modified - what?

GM or GE organisms are prevalent in our grocery stores.  If you are unaware of this term, you likely are eating a large proportion of them and not even knowing it.

GMO = Genetically Modified Organism

GE = Genetically Engineered

These foods have been altered from their natural form.  They are everywhere, but the U.S. doesn’t require them to be labeled as such.

How can you avoid them?

Buy organic – they cannot be GMO or GE; this applies to animal products too, as they cannot be fed GMOs.

Look for foods labeled GMO/GE free.

If you cannot always buy organic, make sure to avoid nonorganic products made with corn and soy, as these are often GE.

Buy organic eggs to avoid GE egg-laying chickens.


Thirty percent of the crops in US are GMOs.  An Italian study found mice fed GM corn had increased allergy and inflammatory responses.  An Austrian study showed GM corn decreased fertility.

Most soy, corn, canola, and cottonseed oil in the US is GM, and most of our livestock is fed GM food.  Avoid corn syrup, high fructose corn syrup, corn meal, dextrose, maltodextrin, oils (corn, cottonseed, canola, soybean, unspecified vegetable), soy protein, soy lecithin, and TVP.

OR – eat organic versions, which can’t be grown from GMO seeds or fed GMO food.

(Sorry, the source seems to have escaped me...)


A classic German dish.

2 cups flour
4 eggs
1 cup water
shredded mozzerella cheese
2 onions

Mix first four ingredients to a thin dough and beat until it bubbles.  Boil salt water in a large pot.  Using a colander with large holes, feed the mixture through the holes and drop into the boiling salt water below.  Once the spatzle floats to the surface, use a slotted spoon to retrieve.  Rinse the spatzle with cold water.  Alternate layers of spatzle and cheese - warm in microwave.  Slice and saute onions until tender, and place on top of the spatzle.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Flame Retardants in What? My Meat?

This blurb was taken from Dr. Jenn Berman's book Superbaby.

"A study in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives revealed that people who frequently eat poultry and beef have higher levels of polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs), a common flame retardant,in their blood.  These known endocrine disrupters, which accumulate in the liver, kidneys, and thyroid gland, have been linked to impaired memory, abnormalities of coordination, hyperactivity, and reproductive and nervous system impairments.
In a study of thirty-two food samples sold in major supermarkets in Dallas, researchers reported PBDE contamination in all food containing animal fats.  According to Arnold Schecter, an environmental sciences professor at the University of Texas School of Public Health and co-author of the study, "That's because PBDEs are easily absorved by fatty tissues.  Nonfat milk, on the other hand, had no detectable PBDE levels."
Americans and Canadians have 10-20 times higher levels of PBDEs than people in Europe, where PBDEs have been banned since 2004, and Japan, where their use and production have been volutnarily restricted.  The highest levels have been detected in U.S. children between the ages of two and five.  Studeis show that vegetarians have PBDE concentrations that are 23 to 27 percent lower than omnivores."

Yet another reason to go vegetarian!  And by eating organic meat and drinking organic milk, you can avoid ingesting a lot of this.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Thinking of Conceiving? Good to know...

So I think you should give every child the best start in life as possible, and I wondered if there was anything you could do pre-conception to contribute to this.  In my research (yes, I know, bad me - I jotted this info down and didn't record my source - sorry!), I came across this information.

First 56 days of embryo’s development gets much of what it needs from what the mother ate in the 3 months prior to conception.  So, when considering getting pregnant, begin:

1) Taking a prenatal vitamin with folic acid

2) Eating healthy

3) Striving for a healthy weight

4) Getting 30 minutes of exercise/day

5) Avoiding smoking, alcohol and any toxic exposures

But wait!  It's not just you, the mama, that needs to be proactive -

New research shows the father’s health has an effect too.  In the three months prior to conception, Dad should:

1) Eat healthy

2) Take a daily multivitamin including 700 mg folic acid

3) Exercise

4) Avoid smoking, drinking and toxic exposure

These things reduce the risk of cancer in offspring and create strong, healthy sperm.

So, you don't have to wait for those two blue lines to appear to begin making healthy changes for your baby - start now!

For a more comprehensive article on this, visit this link.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Free Kids' Music

Here is a great site for downloading free kids music!  I downloaded each traditional title and then burned them all to a CD...  now we have car music! 

Traditional Childrens Songs | Children Songs.

We also have DISH Network, and enjoy listening to channel 976 - Kids' Music.  I'm sure every cable/satellite provider probably has something comparable.  It's often on when we're in the living room and she enjoys dancing to it.  Just be aware - TVs suck a lot of energy, so turn off when not in use!

If anyone has recommendations for other sources of free kids' music, please post!

Peter Rabbit (Carrot) Soup

Sometimes I'll categorize a post in more than one, like this one - not only did I place it under vegetarian recipes, but also kids - as what could make a better kids' meal than something named after an adorable, beloved rabbit, and that's oh-so-good for them?

2 Tbsp. butter
1 lb. baby carrots, chopped
1 lb. parsnips, peeled and chopped
1 onion, diced
dash salt/pepper
2 32 oz. containers vegetable broth
1/3 cup uncooked brown rice
1/2 cup milk (optional)
toppings (optional): sour cream, chives, pepper

Melt butter in a large pot.  Add veggies, salt and pepper.  Saute until onion is tender.  Add broth and bring to a boil.  Add rice.  Simmer over medium heat 40 minutes.  Remove from heat, add milk and blend (may divide into 2 batches).  Top as desired.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

No Meat Today

Animal welfare not a big concern to you?  Not one of those bleeding hearts who watches a documentary on how food animals are mistreated and it causes you to temporarily (if not permanently) go veggie?  Perhaps you instead are concerned with the environmental impact of eating meat?  If so, read on:

According to a recent study by researchers at Carnegie Mellon University, foregoing red meat and dairy just one day a week achieves more greenhouse gas reductions than eating an entire week’s worth of locally sourced foods. That’s because the carbon footprint of food miles is dwarfed by that of food production. In fact, 83 percent of the average U.S.household’s carbon footprint for food consumption comes from production; transportation represents only 11 percent; wholesaling and retailing account for 5 percent. Source: Weber, C.L. and Matthews, H.S. 2008. Food-miles and the relative climate impacts of food choices in the United States. Environmental Science & Technology 42(10):3508–3513.

So, if this matters to you, start a new tradition in your family - pledge to go meat-free one night a week!  If you do, let me know about it in the comments section, and how it went over with your family!  And - good luck! (If you need some inspiration, check out some of my vegetarian recipes!)


Friday, February 17, 2012

Clean Eating with The Gracious Pantry

For my daughter's first birthday we did a Barnyard-themed pumpkin party.  As such, I wanted to have pumpkin cupcakes, but as I'd not given her sweets at all up until that point, I didn't want her to have a sugar-laden dessert.  An internet search revealed this recipe:

Clean Eating Pumpkin Cupcakes With Chocolate Pumpkin Frosting

Let me just say, it was delish!  I made a "regular" (hence, NOT sugar-free) batch of pumpkin cupcakes too, and more people preferred these by far!  I had to pass out the recipe the day after.  Anyway - this is how I found out about The Gracious Pantry - now I am subscribed to receive regular email updates with her newest and greatest creations, and am having fun trying all kinds of "clean" recipes with my little koala bear!  Check her out!

An Excitotoxin - meaning it literally excites your brain cells to death

That's what MSG, or Monosodium Glutamate (sometimes referred to as Glutamic Acid) does.  And, unbelievably, it's in LOTS of the foods you buy - especially processed foods.  It is also found in...  wait for it....  BABY foods. Yep, you heard it right.  Baby's brains grow more in the first two years of life than any other time, and companies are putting substances in their food that kill those cells.

What can you do?

When possible, avoid processed foods and those with lots of additives. Make sure the food does not contain MSG, hydrolyzed proteins, or glutamic acid.  Also, buy organic, which lessens the possibility but I have still found many of the below-mentioned ingredients in organic food, so even that's not fail-safe.

Sometimes MSG is “hidden” in other ingredients – watch out for:

Autolyzed yeast

Calcium caseinate

Hydrolyzed oat four

Hydrolyzed protein (of any kind)

Monosodium glutamate

Plant protein extract

Sodium caseinate

Textured protein

Yeast extract

Be especially careful when the food contains:




Malt extract/flavoring

Natural beef/chicken flavoring

Natural flavoring






Soy protein

Whey protein

Once I learned about this, I kept this list in my purse when I went shopping, and whenever I was going to buy anything processed, checked this first.  Even items like organic crackers or vegetable broth I found contained sometimes several of these ingredients.  Eventually I started learning them and no longer had to carry my list.

Source: Excitotoxins: The Taste That Kills by Dr. Russell Blaylock

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Why eat organic? Some compelling reasons

For several years now I've tried to buy organic food for my husband and I.  Funny, for me I'm often not motivated by my own health.  I did it primarily for two reasons:

1) To reduce contaminants introduced into the environment (such as when produce is sprayed with pesticides)

2) To ensure humane treatment of the animals I was obtaining my dairy from (and meat, when I bought for hubby)

Then the little one came along, and suddenly my motivation became threefold - now that HER health was at stake, I revisited my shopping list with a vengeance.  There were things I had ALWAYS bought organic (milk, eggs, meat) to make me feel okay about eating it, and things I often slipped on (beans, peppers) because, hey, a LITTLE pesticides won't hurt us, and they are much cheaper...  No more, not for my little sweet pea, uh uh.  Now my grocery list included a large portion of organic items (and a bill to reflect that - ugh!).  But, it is very important to me to only give her the best, so we suck it up.  Why should you care?  Well, here are a few reasons, taken from Dr. Jenn Berman’s book Superbaby:

A report by the Environmental Working Group found that some apples are so toxic that one bite taken by a child under the age of five can deliver an unsafe dose of organophosphate insecticides. 

There are currently 600 chemicals that farmers are legally allowed to use on produce and at least fifty of these are classified as carcinogenic, according to the FDA. 

Twenty pounds of pesticides are used per person per year in the U.S. 

Pesticides are present not only in conventionally grown fruits and vegetables but also in processed products like cookies, cereals and crackers. 

Nine out of ten kids under the age of five are exposed to thirteen different neurotoxic insecticides in baby foods, according to the EWG. 

Organophosphates in apple, peach, grape and pear baby food that is consumed by 85,000 children every day exceed the federal safety standard by a factor of ten or more. 

Twenty million children age five and under consume an average of eight pesticides per day. 

Drinking nonorganic apple juice may expose your two year old to as many as eighty different pesticides, an exposure that is twenty times that of his mother on a body-weight basis.

Scary stuff huh?  So what can you do about it?  Good news: By feeding your kids an organic diet, you eliminate nearly 90% of their pesticide exposure.  Consider this:

“A University of Washington study that was funded by the EPA measured the pesticide levels in the urine of 23 children before and after switching to an organic diet.  Prior to the switch, every single child tested showed the presence of pesticides, but after only five straight days on an organic diet, researchers found that pesticide levels were undetectable.  They remained that way until the children returned to eating conventionally grown foods.”

Wow – you can make a difference by changing your diet!  For me that was a no-brainer.  Of course, any change you make makes a difference, even if it's switching from regular to organic milk and nothing else!  One change a week, a month - slowly switching over doesn't seem quite as drastic, and before you know it, you're whole family will be healthier!

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Annie Chun's Sushi Wraps

Many grocery stores carry this product.  It was easy to make, healthy and yummy!  I stuffed mine with avocado and my husband's with shrimp (fillings not included, stuff however you prefer!), and rounded out our meal with edamame and hot tea.