Archive for March, 2012

Proof : Don’t Judge a Book by it’s Cover!

…or a banana by it’s peel!

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Roasted Black Beans : The results are in!

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They may not be pretty to look at, but they were DELICIOUS!!  In fact, I will be making them on a regular basis.  The only thing I would do differently is that I would season them after cooking instead of before.  I had these for a snack after a delicious meal of barley and okra <3.  I needed some protein, so they were perfect.

Here’s how I did it!  …or rather how you should do it because of the seasoning issue I mentioned earlier…

Roasted Black Beans
What you need: a can of black beans, an oil you like to roast with, seasonings you like, a pan and an oven. Simple stuff for simple folks.

How you do it: Preheat 425.  Drain and rinse the can of black beans.  Dry them either using a paper towel, or if you’re me…a washcloth I grabbed out of the dryer.  They don’t have to be completely dry, but it helps.  Toss them with some olive oil. Throw ’em on a baking pan.  Bake 20 minutes, move them around with a spatula (oh yea, you should also get a spatula for this…unless you want burned fingers).  Bake 10-20 more minutes while keeping an eye on them.  Remove from oven, spritz lightly with oil once more (I use an olive oil sprayer) and throw on whatever seasoning you like.  I used a mix of cumin and chili powder.

And you’re done.

Try it…you’ll like it 🙂

Roasted Black Beans? I’ll give it a whirl.

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I’m a huge fan of roasted chickpeas (garbanzo beans).  How simple is it to open up a can, toss with some olive oil and tamari and throw something in the oven?  Pretty simple, I mean I just went over the basic recipe in all of a sentence.  Since I loved them so much I started to wonder…can you roast other beans?

Tonight we’ll find out!  I’m going to attempt to roast black beans tonight and I’ll report back here tomorrow with the results.  I don’t see why you couldn’t do it, and I have a bunch of canned beans so I’ll try it!  If things go well, next on the list will be Cannellini beans!

Keep an eye out for my next post to see how it goes!  

Why I Breastfeed: The short sweet truth.

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There are many reasons to breastfeed.  Health benefits being number one.  While I do breastfeed because I feel it’s what’s best health-wise for my little ones and I also feel it’s what nature intended…if I didn’t have that mindset I would still breastfeed.  My reasoning is short, sweet, and to the point:

1. It’s cheap.
The average family spends approximately $100-130 per month on formula, and that’s going with store brand.  Sure, you can get some help from WIC but they make it clear in all their paperwork that the amount of formula they provide you with is not equal to how much you should be using each month.  They provide you with the majority, but you will still need to buy approximately 3 cans each month.  I’m cheap, screw that.  Breastfeeding is free.  Yes, you can go buy pumps and fancy nursing gear and rack up some hefty receipts, but those things aren’t usually necessary.  When they are, there are resources to help.  I got my pump free from WIC and it is mine to keep even when I stop nursing my youngest.  I got lanolin with a giftcard I got from our baby shower, same with some cold pads to help my girls through some rough times with bad latch.  And while nursing bras and all that are nice, they aren’t completely necessary.  If you really want them, you can get them pretty cheap.  Will they be the prettiest things ever?  HAHAHA no.  Mine aren’t, but they get the job done and I got them for seven bucks each.

2. I’m lazy.
People can say all day long that it’s “easier” to give formula, but I’ve been there and that’s a crock.  I had to use formula, after exhausting our donor milk outlet, with my second because of major supply issues that I never had with my oldest.  How can someone ever think that bottle feeding is easier?  Here’s how you formula feed in the middle of the night: Wake up completely, get out of bed while baby is screaming and hungry, try to console baby while getting out a bottle and other necessities, spill formula powder on the floor because you can’t do it one-handed with a wiggling crying baby in the other hand, finally get bottle made, deal with baby not wanting to actually eat because now they’re crying so hard they’re having trouble breathing, finally get them fed, lay back down to go to sleep, repeat.  Here’s how you breastfeed in the middle of the night (if you’re like me and bedshare): Sleepily unhook bra, insert boob in mouth, fall asleep, wake up hours later with boob still in mouth, say “screw it” and go back to sleep anyways.  A lot of times I apparently do all of this while completely asleep, I go into auto-drive at night I guess.

 

So there you have it, two reasons why I breastfeed: It’s cheap and I’m lazy.
If you’re a breastfeeding mom, let’s get some comments going on this blog because I know you’re out there reading.  Share the age(s) of your child(ren) and how long you’ve been breastfeeding or did breastfeed! 

Lavender: A calm way to refresh your mattress.

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I’ve been looking for new ways to use the essential oils I already own, so I was happy when a tip was posted on a facebook page I “like” called Homestead Survival.  This article explains a way to refresh your mattress using just baking soda, lavender essential oil, and a metal kitchen strainer.  I didn’t have a strainer, so after mixing the baking soda and lavender in the jar (and shaking) I just sprinkled it directly from the jar onto the bed and shmushed it around with my hands.  Basically you do just that…baking soda and lavender in a jar, shake, put directly on mattress.  Let it set for a while, and then vacuum it up.  While I was doing this I sent my sheets through a warm wash with homemade laundry soap and through a dry cycle along with a towel with some lavender essential oil dripped on it as well.  I wanted to pull the whole thing together that way :).  After vacuuming up the heavenly smelling baking soda I put the sheets back on the bed and laid down with my little man.  He and I drifted off into a deep sleep within minutes and woke up a few hours later.  I’m not big on lavender, but I swear I could literally feel my muscles letting go of their tension as I was laying there breathing in the aroma.

I’m converted, I will now be doing this at least once each month.
The article I linked to above doesn’t just talk about the calming scent and freshness given by the baking soda, it also means getting rid of pesky dust mites! 

If you don’t like the smell of lavender there are a couple of other calming essential oils I would suggest.  As much as I love them, I don’t suggest any citrus scents as they are considered to be more energizing/invigorating and with me being the mom of a baby the last thing I want is something that keeps me awake when I lie down for bed!  But anyways, here are my other suggestions…I don’t know if they’re all supposed to be calming, but that’s how they work for me…

*Roman Chamomile
*Eucalyptus
*Ylang Ylang 
*Rose
*Vetiver
*Caraway

If you have the time and ability to do this, I definitely suggest it.   

Tips for your No Poo transition.

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If you read other blogs about going No Poo you read a lot about the transition period, also called the detox period.  When you stop using commercial shampoos and try this method your hair has to regulate itself.  When you use shampoos some of the nasties mess with your scalp’s natural oil production.  They make your scalp need to produce more oils to compensate.  Whenever you start not using shampoo you aren’t stripping those oils from your hair, but your body is still producing oil as if you are.  The result: a greasy mess.  Not everyone experiences this detox period, but many of us do.  Here are some tips to help you get through the tough times…

1. Use dry shampoo between showers
Since your hair is going to naturally get oily, why not use something to “soak up” the excess?  You can purchase a commercial dry shampoo, but I think that defeats the purpose of going No Poo.  Instead, choose natural alternatives.  For blonde, light red, or light brown hair, use cornstarch.  Start at your roots and comb or brush it through your hair.  For medium brown or dark red hair, a mixture of cornstarch and unsweetened cocoa powder will do the trick.  And, obviously, for dark brown or black hair just use cocoa powder by itself.
 
2. Blow dry your hair
I usually try and let my hair air dry, but I’ve realized that using a blow dryer can really reduce the oil you see in your hair.  Pair this with tip #1 and you should be golden .
 
3. Use less ACV
The ACV/Water mixture is to help add shine and condition your hair.  You don’t need to use as much during detox because it’s already going to be all shiny…just from too much darn oil!  The last thing you need is shine on top of shine on top of shine.  Reduce the amount of ACV you use, or cut it out altogether during that time if you wish.
 
4. Drink more water
Is this going to help?  Hell if I know, but drinking enough water seems to help with just about every other health condition, so I figured I’d throw it in for funsies.
 
5. Chant, “It’s just temporary” over and over
Just remember, this is a temporary thing, and in the end your hair will thank you for it!
 
 
 
During my detox period I used the first two and that was all I needed to notice a difference.  In fact sometimes when I wake up if I’m in a rush and I see that my hair is a bit oily, I still use cocoa powder.  Here’s my warning: it can be messy.  I’m sure there’s some kind of stress free technique, but I haven’t found it.  The easiest one I’ve found to reduce the mess is draping a towel across my shoulders and using a small brush to dip in the cocoa powder and then apply to my hair.  Once it’s in there (it will be visible) just brush it through and things will work out.  Another perk?  When you go to wash your hair in the shower it will fill with an amazing chocolaty scent :).

Until next time folks! 

Sunscreen: Friend or Foe?

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Warmer months are on their way!  I have a strong belief that sun protection should be worn daily, and most health organizations agree that you should do this even if it’s cloudy.  Do I put it on every day?  Nope, I forget on a pretty regular basis, but we all have to change in our own time and work on our downfalls.  Despite not always doing what I should, I do still acknowledge that I should be wearing it daily.

Whether you use it daily or only when the sun threatens to crisp up your skin like some overcooked southern fried chicken…at some point you are going to want to use it, especially on the delicate skin of your kids!  The problem is that these days sunscreens and sunblocks are chock full of all kinds of scary chemicals.  Hoping for examples?  Well aren’t you just in luck, I totally have examples!

Oxybenzone
This ingredient is highly absorbed into the skin and there are concerns that it may cause hormone disruption.  Numerous studies have also found health concerns including endocrine disruption, cell damage, and cancer caused by oxybenzone.  In 2008 the CDC did a study that revealed that 97% of Americans are contaminated with oxybenzone.  There was another study linking it to low birth weight in girls born to mothers who were exposed to oxybenzone during their pregnancy.  Even though we’re talking about sunscreen, be aware that this potential hormone disrupter can be found in other products such as moisturizer, perfume, lipstick, conditioner, and anti-aging creams.  If you are replacing your sunscreen with a more natural brand, be sure it includes at least 7% zinc oxide in place of this ingredient.  Zinc oxide creates a barrier on the skin for UVA/UVB rays rather than absorbing into the skin.
For more information on this toxic ingredient check out http://www.ewg.org/analysis/toxicsunscreen

Artificial Fragrance
If the fragrance in the natural sunscreen you find is from plant sources then you should be good to go.  However, if it’s just listed as “fragrance” or “parfum” it isn’t mandated by federal law to have to say that it contains any toxins if it does.  Some artificial fragrance ingredients have possible cancer risks and are known to cause allergic reactions.  If you’d rather be safe than sorry then you can either make your own sunscreen or you can always choose a natural alternative that is fragrance free!

Now that I have you trembling in your flip-flops it’s time to put your mind at ease and let you know of some great alternatives to these nasty chemicals!  I love doing just about anything homemade, so when I found out that you can do this for sunscreen as well I jumped aboard the train and began researching.  Well, because that’s what us internet moms do!  I haven’t tried any of these out myself, but I’m going to link you all to some sites that include recipes for homemade sunscreen.  Some of my local mom friends over at Jacksonville Natural Mamas swear by homemade sunscreen, and I encourage them to post a comment here with their own recipe if they want to share :).

http://www.instructables.com/id/Homemade-Sunscreen/
http://wellnessmama.com/2558/natural-homemade-sunscreen-recipe/
http://www.easy-aromatherapy-recipes.com/homemade-sunscreen.html
http://www.crunchybetty.com/ask-crunchy-betty-homemade-sunblock-and-skin-protection
http://littlehouseinthesuburbs.com/2009/01/homemade-sunscreen.html

 

Now if you’re not the make-it-at-home type person there are always options out there that don’t contain nasty stuff in there.  If you check out this link: http://breakingnews.ewg.org/2011sunscreen/all-sunscreens/
Some of the top picks include:

Hara Body Care Sport SPF 30
BurnOut Kids Physical Sunscreen, SPF 30+
Aubrey Organics Natural Sun Green Tea Sunscreen, SPF 30+ 
Adorable Baby Clear Baby Sunscreen Stick, SPF 30+

 

At that link you can also type in the brand you buy and see how it stacks up to some of the higher rated ones!

Well, that’s the end of another post.  Hope it helped someone out there, and hope to see some great feedback to this one!  Keep safe mamas and other folk too :).