February 28, 2011

The Real Story of America's Infant Mortality Rate

Alert: I am going to get political in this post! 

I am a huge fan of natural childbirth.  I believe in midwives.  Proponents of natural childbirth often argue that America should follow the European model of childbirth (midwives and homebirth are much more common in Europe), because we have one of the worst infant mortality rates among industrialized nations.  But here's the real story:
[W]hat those who create these damning lists never mention is that America considers a premature delivery a ‘baby’ and tries to save it – and is one of the few countries that keep track of early fetal mortality, defined as the survival rate of infants who are born as early as the 20th week of gestation. Most countries don’t even keep track of newborns who die in the first 24 hours, with many European countries labeling them “fetal deaths” rather than live births. America goes to great lengths to save those newborns – other countries are unwilling to spend the resources to do that. Government funded healthcare makes these decisions for parents by assigning a monetary value to life – and often find they cannot afford to save premature babies. So they write them off. We count them.
I am so thankful I live in America, where life is sacred.  We are a great nation!

You can read the rest of this article here.

February 27, 2011

Menu Plan 2/27 through 3/5

We are gearing up for our busiest time of year- calving season!  I'm looking forward to getting outside with the baby calves in the next few weeks!  In preparation, I've stashed several casseroles in the freezer, as well as some cooked ground meat.  I'll be making good use of my oven and my slow cookers to create meals that are ready to eat as soon as we get home.  Here's what we're eating this week.

Sunday- Pork Roast with mashed potatoes and gravy; fresh fruit on the side
Monday- Pork enchiladas made with Soaked Tortillas; served with homemade sour cream, avocados
Tuesday- Cabbage Roll Casserole, served with homemade sour cream, fresh fruit
Wednesday- Leftovers
Thursday- Homemade Baked Beans, Cornbread
Friday- Broiled Steaks, Fried Potatoes, Carrot Sticks
Saturday- Chicken Tetrazzini (from freezer), steamed spinach with butter

 For more meal plans, visit I'm an Organizing Junkie every Monday.

February 25, 2011

Starting Solids with Baby # 2

There is so much information out there on starting your baby on solids that it's easy to be confused!  With my son, I was extremely paranoid about introducing solids too early in case he should develop food allergies.  I delayed solids until he was about 9 months old, (much to my in-laws' dismay).  I never thought that rice cereal was a healthy choice for a first food, so I just skipped that.  I thought that I should start with finger foods (as recommended by proponents of Baby-Led Weaning) and let him sample whatever we happened to be eating.  Putting ideas into practice is how I learn best, and I realized that maybe it's not so bad to feed baby with a spoon.  The problem was, the most convenient finger foods are not usually the healthiest.  Cheerios and yogurt melts were staples of his diet.  Those are full of sugars and refined grains that convert into simple sugars very quickly in the body.  Also, sometimes we eat things that babies really can't handle, such as soup that needs to be eaten with a spoon, or really spicy things. 

When I got pregnant with Baby #2, I decided I would do things differently.  I started reading about Real Food, including Nina Planck's book Real Food for Mother and Baby.  Her food philosophy made sense to me.  She's all about whole foods such as protein (especially salmon roe), good fats, and veggies for the little ones.  She really discourages feeding babies bread and other grains.  I highly recommend her book because it is full of interesting studies and nutrional information that was all new to me.

Since I finished Planck's book I have read quite a bit of material from the Weston A. Price Foundation.  I am using a blend of all this information to guide the food choices I make for my daughter.  The WAPF says you can start solids around 4 months, but I waited until closer to 7.  I'm still not convinced that any food is better than breastmilk, even though WAPF says that the nutritional quality of breastmilk will be affected by the mother's diet.  WAPF recommends starting with lightly cooked egg yolks and then adding raw grated liver.  (Um, yeah, I just can't do the raw liver.)  At first the egg yolks were a hit, but she has not eaten them so enthusiastically in the past few days.  I did give her some hard boiled egg yolk in the airport and she seemed to like it. 

Next in the WAPF plan is mashed bananas introduced after 6 months and meats and vegetables around 10 months.  I am not waiting until 10 months to introduce other vegetables like they recommend, just because I feel like letting her try new things (really well-thought-out reason right?).  She doesn't care much for bananas.  I've introduced her to avocados, which she eats pretty willingly.  

Since it's hard to keep fresh bananas and avocados around I decided to cook some vegetables to freeze in baby-sized portions.  I steamed some carrots, mashed them, and flash-froze them in tablespoon-sized portions.  I've seen some people use ice cube trays but I don't have any!  I did add a little sea salt and butter but they still tasted pretty bland to me. 

Cooked carrots ready for the freezer.
 Once they were frozen I put them all into a freezer-safe ziplock baggie.  I fed her some carrot this morning, and she liked it, but next time I make baby food for the freezer I will puree it.  She had a little trouble with the consistency of the carrots (just mashed). 

She has also tried spaghetti squash, which she liked, and crackers when we're away from home.  I feel more confident about what I'm feeding her than what I fed my son that I am able to relax a little bit about the whole baby food thing and just enjoy watching her try new foods.  It is really funny to see her get so excited about the spoon coming her way, and then to see her make a funny face as she decides whether she likes it or not.  I will probably offer her some flaked fish the next time we have some (which is not often enough at our house).  I believe it's easier for her to handle than even the most tender slow cooked beef.  Once she can handle the flaked fish I'll probably start offering tender chunks of meat.  I'm not sure what to do about the birthdays celebrations that are coming this summer.  I'd really like to get my son an ice cream cake.  Maybe some homemade ice cream sweetened with honey or maple syrup...  I'll let you know when I decide.

I think the most important thing to keep in mind when feeding a baby solid foods is that they will have plenty of opportunities in their lifetime to consume nutritionally void, worthless, downright harmful, junk food.  There is no good reason for us to give them Fruit Loops, ice cream, or soda pop.  Some people interpret a baby's reaching for junk food as a sign we should give it to them.  I disagree.  We are in charge of their health at this point, and we will never have as much control over the foods they eat as we do now.  We must use our power wisely! 

February 24, 2011

Link Love- The Soy Story

 Think soy is a healthy source of protein?  Think again.  Here's the scoop:

Keeper of the Home wants you to beware The Soy Decoy.

The Weston A. Price Foundation covers many Myths and Truths about Soy.

And finally, Food Renegade exposes The Dangers of Soy.

February 23, 2011

I've been away...

As you've probably noticed, I've been neglecting this blog for some time.  I've been busy with real life and also have been feeling uninspired.  It seems everywhere I turn there is another blogger who is writing about something I want to write about, and I feel like I would be unoriginal if I were to write about the same topic.  One of my goals here on this blog is to write original content.  I mentioned this to my husband the other day, and he told me "That's how everything is.  You just need to do it better than everyone else."  Sometimes he is so wise and makes me feel good without even trying!  So, it's back to blogging!

On that note, I'd like to share about how sneaky my 2-year-old has been lately!  Today after lunch my husband got some cookie dough out of the freezer.  My son immediately asked for some, even though he had hardly eaten his meal.  My husband told him that if he would finish his turkey he could have some dough.  My son protested a bit, then finally shoved about 3 bites' worth into his mouth.  Husband dropped a spoonful of cookie dough on the plate and turned to put the dough away.  Son quietly held his hand up to his mouth and let the turkey slide out.  He started to put it back on his plate, staring at the cookie dough.  I laughed and showed my husband what our son was doing.  He couldn't help but laugh too.  After more protests, the turkey was eaten, as was the cookie dough.  He's got a big sweet tooth, just like his mom!

It seems there is a pattern forming here.  A couple of nights ago his dad was eating chocolate pie and he wanted some, so we told him to finish his dinner and then he could have dessert.  I walked out of the room to tend to the baby.  When I returned, his plate was clean.  "Good job finishing your food!"  I dished up his dessert as promised.

About 20 minutes later, while doing the dishes, I noticed food in the sink- the same food that had been on my son's plate!  What a sneaky little boy!