January 30, 2011

Meal Plan Jan 30- Feb 5

Brrrr.... it is COLD here!  And the next two days are going to be even colder!  They're predicting wind chill readings of -50 degrees tomorrow night.  Yikes!  So glad to have a nice stack of firewood and the makings for some yummy soup!  I have made more soup this winter than ever before.  It's a frugal and healthy meal choice, especially when prepared with homemade broth.  To read about the health benefits of homemade broth, click here

Here's what we'll be eating this week:

Sunday- Mexican Beef Soup (new recipe), Cornbread
Monday- Venison/Beef Bolognese Sauce over pasta, Steamed Peas with butter
Tuesday- Roast Beef with Mashed Potatoes and Gravy, Carrots
Wednesday- Burritos made with leftover roast beef, avocados, sour cream, cheese
Thursday- Homemade BBQ Pizza made with leftover roast beef (an experiment) , Steamed Spinach with butter
Friday- Tuna Burgers on Homemade Buns, Cauliflower au Gratin (new recipe)
Saturday- Broccoli Cheese Soup, Homemade Wheat Bread

January 28, 2011

Link Love- Sugar-Free Edition

Are you trying to kick your sugar habit?  Here are some links from the blogosphere to help:

Slay the Sugar Monster in Four Doable Stelps by The Healthy Home Economist

The Nourishing Gourment just held a week-long Sugar Free Challenge; here is the Recap  of the challenge, including inspiring success stories.

Keeper of the Home has 21 Ways to Eat Less Sugar as well as some links to other bloggers' posts about cutting out the sugar.

Happy Sugar-Free cooking!

January 26, 2011

Maintaining a Good Breastmilk Supply

In this post I wrote about establishing your milk supply.  But what about maintenance?  How do you keep the breastfeeding relationship going as long as you want?

There is one simple thing you can do.  It doesn't cost any money.  You can do it in your sleep. 

You ready?

Here it is:

Nurse your baby in your bed at night.

That's all! 

That is how millions of women around the world from the beginning of time have raised their babies.  Out of the breastfeeding moms that I know, the ones who kept baby in bed with them (and nursed throughout the night) were able to nurse as long as they wanted- a year at the shortest, 5 years at the longest.  Mom was able to decide how long to nurse, instead of running out of milk and finding the decision had already been made!  Some of these women went back to work a few weeks after birth.  Even if Mom (or baby) is too busy to nurse during the day, nursing throughout the night will keep up the supply of breastmilk, providing baby with all the wonderful benefits of breastfeeding. 

On the other hand, I know a few moms who encouraged their babies to sleep all night without nursing and they could not keep up with baby's demand.  Not nursing at night AND trying to pump instead of nurse during the day?  That's really a recipe to lose your milk supply.  Now, this does not happen to every mom, but why risk it?

But isn't cosleeping dangerous?  Actually, there are some studies that show cosleeping is beneficial to baby.  They say Mom's breathing helps regulate Baby's breathing and that intentional cosleeping reduces the risk of SIDS  You can find more information on  Dr. Sears' website about cosleeping.  To make your bed as safe as possible for your little one, use common sense.  Cosleeping should be intentional (that means don't fall asleep with baby accidentally).  There is little risk of you (the non-smoking Mom) rolling over onto your baby unless you have been drinking, using drugs, are overtired, or are severly obese.  However, I don't recommed putting baby between mom and dad (or a sibling).   I'm not convinced Dad or a sibling wouldn't accidentally roll onto the baby.  You should have a rail or a net to keep baby from rolling out of bed.  Keep the floor clear so that if baby does happen to roll out she won't become trapped or suffocate (piles of clothing, trash cans, etc).  Never put your baby on the side of bed next to the wall as she could become trapped between the bed and the wall.  The safest option is to sleep on a mattress on the floor.

Two excellent breastfeeding/cosleeping resources:

Kellymom- a website devoted to breastfeeding and natural parenting

La Leche League- Their book, The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding, includes practical tips for cosleeping.  Even if you choose not to cosleep, this book is essential for the breastfeeding mother!

What about you?  How did you maintain your breastmilk supply? 

Disclaimer:  I am not a medical professional, just a mom who has nursed two babies.  Please consult your physician for advice on safe cosleeping.  I assume no responsibility for any outcome, good or bad, that results from this advice.

Linked to WFMW and Real Food Wednesday.

January 24, 2011

Homemade Cream Cheese (from Raw Milk)

I took a big step on my Real Food journey today: I made cream cheese and whey from raw milk!  The process of making cream cheese and whey is called culturing or fermenting the milk.  Basically you let the milk sit out at room temperature until it naturally separates.  

But isn't that dangerous, you might be asking?  Well, according to Sally Fallon Morell, author of Nourishing Traditions,
Without pasteurization or refrigeration, milk sours and separates spontaneously.  This is due to the process of lacto-fermentation during which lactic-acid-producing bacteria begin digesting or breaking down both milk sugar (lactose) and milk protein (casein).  When these friendly bacteria have produced enough lactic acid to inactivate all putrefying bacteria, the milk is effectively preserved from spoilage for several days or weeks..."   
In fact, she writes that people all over the world used to consume soured milk for the health benefits.  She writes:
Research has shown that regular consumption of cultured dairy products lowers cholesterol and protects against bone loss.  In addition, cultured dairy products provide beneficial bacteria and lactic acid to the digestive tract.  These friendly creatures and their by-products keep pathogens at bay, gaurd against infectious illness and aid in the fullest possible digestion of all food we consume.
A few days ago my in-laws found a jug of raw milk in their walk-in cooler that was a little older than the rest.  They gave me their blessing to make cream cheese and whey with it.  I put the jar in the cabinet above my fridge (past experience led me to believe it needs to be at least 65 or 70 degrees to culture).  This morning (2 days later) I took the jar down and this is what I saw:

I put a flour sack cloth in a bowl and dumped the soured milk into it:

Then I gathered up the cloth and secured it with a rubber band.  I needed a place to hang it.  Our kitchen cabinets don't have knobs, and our sinks seemed too shallow, so I fastened it to the snow blower in the garage:

Then I let the liquid drip out for about 2 hours.  This is the liquid (whey) that came out:

I think I could have let it drip longer, but I was ready to be done with it.  Here's the "drip-dried" cloth with the cream cheese inside:

Ahhh, fresh cream cheese! 

I ended up with about 5 cups of liquid whey, which I'll use to soak my grains.

I didn't measure, but I'd guess I ended up with about 2 1/2 cups of cheese:

I kept one contained and gave the other one to my in-laws.  They were very reluctant to eat it.  I whipped it with a fork to give it a more pleasing texture.

It tastes like....  sour cream.  Tangy and smooth.  Yum!

Then I realized the bagels I'd made last week were molding, so now I have to make some more to go with my fresh cream cheese.  Sigh... A woman's work is never done (especially if she's trying to feed her family Real Food made from scratch!)

*I should mention that you can only make cream cheese and whey from yogurt, whole-milk buttermilk, piima milk, or raw milk.  You cannot do this with pasteurized milk.

Linked to Monday Mania

Meal Plan Jan 23-29

After a few weeks without a meal plan, I am ready to get organized!  It is so much harder to eat healthier when you don't plan ahead!  The kids and I have been sick, although we are recovering now. 

At this very moment I am straining some homemade cream cheese and whey for the first time!  I will share more about that tomorrow. 

Here's our meal plan for the week!

Sunday, Jan 23- Leftover Buffet
Monday, Jan 24- Venison Chili with Cornbread, carrot sticks
Tuesday, Jan 25- Mexican Ham and Bean Soup with Cornbread
Wednesday, Jan 26- Pork Carnitas on Soaked Tortillas with avocado, cheese, and sour cream
Thursday, Jan 27- Broiled Steaks, Fried Potatoes, Steamed Spinach
Friday, Jan 28- Salmon Patties on Homemade Buns, Steamed Peas
Saturday, Jan 29- Leftover Buffet

January 21, 2011

Green Pastures Products Giveaway

Head on over to The Healthy Home Economist for a chance to win $70 worth of Green Pastures products- a 25 ounce jar of coconut ghee plus your choice of fermented skate or cod liver oil!  This giveaway is open until midnight, January 31.

January 17, 2011

Establishing a Good Breastmilk Supply

Disclaimer: I am not a medical professional, just a mother who has nursed 2 children.  Please consult your doctor before trying anything new with your baby.  I assume no responsibility or liability for any advice herein.

Once again I'm inspired by my friend, a brand-new momma, to write about babies.  I talked to her husband a few days after the birth.  Very casually, he said, "Yeah, her milk ran out today.  She just stopped producing."  Huh?  I could not wrap my head around the idea of a brand-new mother running out of milk so soon after giving birth. My memories of the immediate post-partum period include leaking, wet shirts, lots of towels.  I kind of stuttered, "Um, well uh, what does the doctor say?"  As he told me they had not asked the doctor, I listened to the background noise.  I could hear other people talking.  Her family was at their house. 

After we hung up, I thought about how my friend has been spending her first few days as a new momma.  She lives very close to her tight-knit family.  I could picture them coming in and out all day long, while she sat on the couch.  I looked at some of her pictures on Facebook.  There were about 20 family members and friends at the hospital when she gave birth, and they all wanted a turn holding the baby.  Suddenly my vision grew crystal clear.  Everyone wanted to help her by holding the baby so she could 'rest' on the couch and chitchat.  Her family thought they were helping her out, but really they were helping her out of a successful breastfeeding relationship!  Grandma (or Aunt, or Cousin, or Friend or Neighbor) likes to be able to connect with the baby, which is understandable.  But from a health standpoint, it is more important that Mom connect with baby in those first few days.

I wrote her a quick email and advised her to tell her family to let her rest with the baby.  Family members can do all kinds of other things to help Mom- bring a home cooked meal over, do the dishes, do the laundry, answer the phone, go grocery shopping, bring water and fresh cut up fruit to Mom, vaccuum, clean the toilets, dust, sweep, mop, take out the trash, clean out the car, bake bread, take care of older kids, answer the phone, make breakfast- you get the idea!   

 To paraphrase Dr. Bradley, author of Husband Coached Childbirth,
Mom and baby need to snuggle together in bed, nurse alot, and just rest for 3 days.  It's not because you are sick, but it's to help you bond with your baby. 
For the sake of establishing a good milk supply, mom and baby should rest together.  Sleep as much as possible with your baby.  Try to figure out how to nurse laying down.  If you have trouble nursing laying down, then sit up and nurse.  But stay in bed for the most part.  When you do get up, put your baby in your baby carrier and take a walk outside for some fresh air. 

My son and me

Another thing you can do to build up a good milk supply is to delay using a pacifier and bottle.  There will be plenty of time for these a few weeks down the road!  Don't rush into using these just so that other people can hold the baby.  If other people need to bond with baby, they can bathe the baby, change diapers, get baby dressed or hold the baby while Mom showers.  The only one feeding the baby immediately after the birth should be Mom.  (Ya'll, I'm talking about normal births where Mom is able and desires to breastfeed.  I know there are special situations where this isn't possible).

By focusing all your energy on establishing a good milk supply, you are laying the foundation for a long and successful breastfeeding relationship

Do you have any tips for establishing (and maintaining) your milk supply?

Linked to WFMW.

January 9, 2011

Our Real Food Journey- an Update

In this post I wrote about my some goals I had set for my family's eating habits.  I thought I'd update you on the status of our "real food journey".  I hope you will be inspired by the baby steps I've been taking!  Here they are, in no particular order:

I was making my own chicken stock before I got into Real Food, and I have contined to make it.  This winter I have made soup from scratch several times.  I am proud of myself for incorporating more soup into our diet. 

I am eating more seafood than ever before.  I even tried shark on New Year's Eve!

I switched to real maple syrup on my pancakes.  With a pat of butter, it's actually pretty good. 

We have switched over to raw milk, but only because my in-laws are buying it and drinking it too.  My husband and I don't go to town often enough to buy it ourselves! 

I can't remember the last time I cooked with vegetable oil.  I now use beef tallow as much as possible.

I have given up my cup-a-day habit (coffee).  I still drink it occasionally, but I've gotten out of the habit of drinking it first thing in the morning.  My energy level is about the same, maybe a little more than before, but definitely not less. 

For the New Year I have given up chocolate, at least for 30 days, but probably longer.  I realized I have a serious problem with it.  So far, so good.  Only one major chocolate craving so far (although I do miss it)!

Something I tried and liked:
- soaked lentils in lentil soup
- soaked whole wheat pancakes

Something I tried and did not like:
- broccoli cheese soup without the Velveeta. 

Something on my list to try soon:
- spelt flour.  I bought some, now I gotta figure out what to do with it!
- make beef stock

It feels good to look back and see improvements, especially when I'm feeling uninspired in the kitchen.  I'd like to continue to update once a month. 

How's your Real Food journey going?

Linked to Monday Mania.

January 6, 2011

Raw Milk

Recently I had the opportunity to try farm fresh, unpasteurized milk. 
AKA Raw Milk. 
For a city gal like myself, it was a little scary. 

Looks okay....

Smells okay...

Tastes.... like store bought milk.

My son's verdict:  "Raw milk is GOOD!"

I still don't care for the taste of milk without some sort of flavoring (never have), so I'll be drinking my raw milk with a little vanilla and (gasp) white sugar.  I plan to wean myself off the flavorings over time, the same way I taught myself to drink cafe au lait without sugar.   

Why drink raw milk?  Well, lots of things happen when milk is pasteurized.  Molecules change, enzymes are destroyed, nutrients are lost.  The "good stuff" is less available to your body.  For more information on raw milk, visit Real Milk

I'll let you know when I'm down to pure milk.

January 5, 2011

The First Rule of Natural Childbirth

My friend gave birth to a beautiful baby girl yesterday.   Her experience reminded me once again of the first rule of natural childbirth: you have to decide it.  Unless the baby comes too fast, you have to decide ahead of time to refuse the painkilling drugs. 

I have given birth twice without pain meds.  And that was only because I decided to. 

If you go into the hospital thinking, "I'd like to have a natural childbirth, but I'll just see how it goes," you are going to end up with an epidural or other pain meds. 

Childbirth hurts!  It is scary!  You will get tired!  And the kindly nurses will ask you if you'd like anything for the pain, even if you write on your birth plan that you don't want them to ask you that. 

If you want the pain medication, that is your choice.  But if you truly want a natural birth, you must decide to give birth without pain medicine.