Category: Green Eating


Introducing Solids to Babies… Not Yet For Kamea But Getting Ready

January 10th, 2011 by

Sorry for my lack of posts the past couple of weeks. Between Kamea, taking care of household duties, and maintaining my Kristen’s Raw blog… time sure does fly, eh? Kamea turned 6 months of age at the end of December 2010 – yowza! It’s so exciting to watch her grow and see her little personality coming out. It’s been a non-stop blast with her.

Traditionally, this is the time that many parents are excited to try giving their baby solids to eat. But, we haven’t followed that tradition. She’s about 6.5 months now and I don’t feel the need to introduce solids yet. I’ve read a number of sources that state a mom can breastfeed her baby exclusively for up to a year. While that is not my goal or intention, I do feel a strong pull in the direction to go beyond the conventional 6-month mark of exclusive breastfeeding.

There are a few markers that many parents look for before introducing solids:

1) Teeth – Kamea doesn’t have any teeth yet. However, some babies don’t start teething until close to a year old. This doesn’t mean you don’t introduce solids before that, but some people use it as one indicator (of a few) as to the readiness of baby to have solids.

2) Sitting up unassisted and having solid head control – Kamea started sitting unassisted just before she turned 6 months. She’s had solid head control for awhile.

3) Interest in foods – Many babies show their eagerness towards solids by reaching for mama’s food. Kamea hasn’t really done this. She definitely eyes us when we’re eating, but she doesn’t grab for it specifically. She pretty much grabs for everything within reach, so her reach for my smoothie cup doesn’t tell me she’s trying to reach for it to drink it.

4) Hunger – If a baby seems hungry beyond the normal feedings of breastmilk then it could be a sign of readiness for solids.

Most importantly though, I’m simply following my own mama intuition. I didn’t feel solids were necessary at the exact 6-month point, and I still don’t at her current age of 6 1/2 months. As many of you know, Kamea sees two different pediatricians (an allopathic doctor and a naturopathic doctor – read more about that here). Both doctors encourage feeding at 6 months. The allopath said that it helps with development. I wasn’t entirely sure if that was something to be concerned about so I’ve been researching it and here is something to consider from KellyMom.com

I’ve not been able to find any research data to support the idea that there is a limited window of opportunity for introducing solids in normally developing, healthy children. There does appear to be some limited evidence that babies who have been tube-fed long-term or have serious developmental delays may have problems learning to eat if they don’t get a chance to practice eating solids between 6 & 10 months. A small study involving case studies of several mentally retarded children was done back in 1964 (Illingworth RS, Lister J. The critical or sensitive period, with special reference to certain feeding problems in infants and children. J Pediatr 1964;65(6) part 1:839-48.). This study suggested that there may be a “critical and/or sensitive” period for introducing chewable textures to these children, and if solids are not introduced during this time, an important developmental milestone may be missed (possibly leading to rejection of solids later on). This study is theonly one I’ve found referenced with regard to the “limited window of opportunity” claims regarding the normal development of children.

I asked a speech & language pathologist I know about her experiences with this. She has worked with many young children who have feeding problems, including developmental delays and problems with chewing and oral texture aversion. She said that she could not think of any reason that delaying solids would cause feeding problems, and said that the the problems in the children she had worked with had generally started at birth or relatively soon after. None of these children had a feeding problem caused by a delayed start to solid foods.

Kamea’s naturopath is more flexible yet a little concerned with Kamea getting enough iron, but I’m not worried about that. Breastmilk’s iron is highly absorbable and anemia is uncommon in breastfed babies according to KellyMom.com.

That being said, I am thinking about it… for when the time is right. I have prepared by doing research into the foods we’ll be feeding her (I can’t wait to write a baby food book with raw and vegan recipes!). I also bought her an organic bib, a couple of baby wooden bowls and spoons (so cute!), and we dove into researching high chairs. Finding a chair for Kamea has been a back and forth process. I wanted a wooden chair to be eco friendly, but I kept hearing so many mixed reviews about the trendy ones on the market like the Tripp Trapp and Svan. Plus, this video freaked me out in spite of them now including “extenders” with the chairs – you’d think the chair should’ve been designed properly in the first place). The other wood chairs on the market just don’t have enough good reviews for me to make the purchase. I don’t really want to have one made because I’m concerned about safety issues. I started searching for a BPA-free plastic option even though I hate the idea of crappy plastic high chairs. As more days came and went, I just couldn’t decide what to do. My dilemma was I wanted wood to be a green mommy, but I didn’t like the options. The result? A friend of ours is giving us her plastic chair. It’s the ultimate in being green as far as reusing and not making a purchase whether wood or plastic. And, while I don’t like the idea of it being plastic, it seems the route to go, for now at least. If the tray isn’t BPA-free, then perhaps I can find a liner for it or something.

I think Kamea’s first food will be organic banana mashed with breastmilk. We’re taking it day by day although I suspect we’ll venture into solids territory somewhere between 7-9 months. Furthermore, our naturopath said to not introduce cereals or grains until at least 9 months of age because a baby lacks the proper enzymes to digest them properly before that. Whoa! Why don’t more people know that?! So often people start with cereals as the first food.

UPDATE (1/11/11): I just read in Shazzie’s book, Evie’s Kitchen (one of my faves for raising healthy kids!), “According to information in The Breastfeeding Answer Book by Nancy Mahrbacher and Julie Stock, delaying the introduction of food from six months to seven months increases nutrient absorption by 60% for life.”

What are your first baby solid stories and/or advice?

Introducing Solids to Kamea… Not Yet But Getting Ready

January 10th, 2011 by

Sorry for my lack of posts the past couple of weeks. Between Kamea, taking care of household duties, and maintaining my Kristen’s Raw blog… time sure does fly, eh? Kamea turned 6 months of age at the end of December 2010 – yowza! It’s so exciting to watch her grow and see her little personality coming out. It’s been a non-stop blast with her.

Traditionally, this is the time that many parents are excited to try giving their baby solids to eat. But, we haven’t followed that tradition. She’s about 6.5 months now and I don’t feel the need to introduce solids yet. I’ve read a number of sources that state a mom can breastfeed her baby exclusively for up to a year. While that is not my goal or intention, I do feel a strong pull in the direction to go beyond the conventional 6-month mark of exclusive breastfeeding.

There are a few markers that many parents look for before introducing solids:

1) Teeth – Kamea doesn’t have any teeth yet. However, some babies don’t start teething until close to a year old. This doesn’t mean you don’t introduce solids before that, but some people use it as one indicator (of a few) as to the readiness of baby to have solids.

2) Sitting up unassisted and having solid head control – Kamea started sitting unassisted just before she turned 6 months. She’s had solid head control for awhile.

3) Interest in foods – Many babies show their eagerness towards solids by reaching for mama’s food. Kamea hasn’t really done this. She definitely eyes us when we’re eating, but she doesn’t grab for it specifically. She pretty much grabs for everything within reach, so her reach for my smoothie cup doesn’t tell me she’s trying to reach for it to drink it.

4) Hunger – If a baby seems hungry beyond the normal feedings of breastmilk then it could be a sign of readiness for solids.

Most importantly though, I’m simply following my own mama intuition. I didn’t feel solids were necessary at the exact 6-month point, and I still don’t at her current age of 6 1/2 months. As many of you know, Kamea sees two different pediatricians (an allopathic doctor and a naturopathic doctor – read more about that here). Both doctors encourage feeding at 6 months. The allopath said that it helps with development. I wasn’t entirely sure if that was something to be concerned about so I’ve been researching it and here is something to consider from KellyMom.com

I’ve not been able to find any research data to support the idea that there is a limited window of opportunity for introducing solids in normally developing, healthy children. There does appear to be some limited evidence that babies who have been tube-fed long-term or have serious developmental delays may have problems learning to eat if they don’t get a chance to practice eating solids between 6 & 10 months. A small study involving case studies of several mentally retarded children was done back in 1964 (Illingworth RS, Lister J. The critical or sensitive period, with special reference to certain feeding problems in infants and children. J Pediatr 1964;65(6) part 1:839-48.). This study suggested that there may be a “critical and/or sensitive” period for introducing chewable textures to these children, and if solids are not introduced during this time, an important developmental milestone may be missed (possibly leading to rejection of solids later on). This study is theonly one I’ve found referenced with regard to the “limited window of opportunity” claims regarding the normal development of children.

I asked a speech & language pathologist I know about her experiences with this. She has worked with many young children who have feeding problems, including developmental delays and problems with chewing and oral texture aversion. She said that she could not think of any reason that delaying solids would cause feeding problems, and said that the the problems in the children she had worked with had generally started at birth or relatively soon after. None of these children had a feeding problem caused by a delayed start to solid foods.

Kamea’s naturopath is more flexible yet a little concerned with Kamea getting enough iron, but I’m not worried about that. Breastmilk’s iron is highly absorbable and anemia is uncommon in breastfed babies according to KellyMom.com.

That being said, I am thinking about it… for when the time is right. I have prepared by doing research into the foods we’ll be feeding her (I can’t wait to write a baby food book with raw and vegan recipes!). I also bought her an organic bib, a couple of baby wooden bowls and spoons (so cute!), and we dove into researching high chairs. Finding a chair for Kamea has been a back and forth process. I wanted a wooden chair to be eco friendly, but I kept hearing so many mixed reviews about the trendy ones on the market like the Tripp Trapp and Svan. Plus, this video freaked me out in spite of them now including “extenders” with the chairs – you’d think the chair should’ve been designed properly in the first place). The other wood chairs on the market just don’t have enough good reviews for me to make the purchase. I don’t really want to have one made because I’m concerned about safety issues. I started searching for a BPA-free plastic option even though I hate the idea of crappy plastic high chairs. As more days came and went, I just couldn’t decide what to do. My dilemma was I wanted wood to be a green mommy, but I didn’t like the options. The result? A friend of ours is giving us her plastic chair. It’s the ultimate in being green as far as reusing and not making a purchase whether wood or plastic. And, while I don’t like the idea of it being plastic, it seems the route to go, for now at least. If the tray isn’t BPA-free, then perhaps I can find a liner for it or something.

I think Kamea’s first food will be organic banana mashed with breastmilk. We’re taking it day by day although I suspect we’ll venture into solids territory somewhere between 7-9 months. Furthermore, our naturopath said to not introduce cereals or grains until at least 9 months of age because a baby lacks the proper enzymes to digest them properly before that. Whoa! Why don’t more people know that?! So often people start with cereals as the first food.

UPDATE (1/11/11): I just read in Shazzie’s book, Evie’s Kitchen (one of my faves for raising healthy kids!), “According to information in The Breastfeeding Answer Book by Nancy Mahrbacher and Julie Stock, delaying the introduction of food from six months to seven months increases nutrient absorption by 60% for life.”

What are your first baby solid stories and/or advice?

How To Grow Your Own Sprouts! Fun, Nutritious, and Delicious (Video, too!)

March 4th, 2010 by

I’ve been growing my own sprouts for many years and I love it. It’s such a fun process. One of my ultimate “green” goals is to grow more than just sprouts for my family. One of these days!

I know that when many people hear that I love sprouts, they automatically presume that I don’t shave my legs and that I hug trees in my spare time. And, when people hear that I grow my own… look out, because I might as well be from another planet – haha. But, when people learn how easy, fun, nutritious and inexpensive it is, they’re all too eager to ask me how to do it. Right now, I have alfalfa and broccoli sprouts growing in mason jars on my counter (I also grow radish sprouts and mung sprouts sometimes). They’re all just so adorable. (Oh yeah, and I “do” shave my legs!)

What is sprouting exactly? ???Sprouting??? is when you cultivate seeds in a non-soil environment just long enough for them to ???wake up??? from their dormant stage, burst into life, and sprout little, tiny stems and tiny leaves??? and then you gobble ???em up! Sprouting is one of the best tools you can use to helping you stay on a healthy path.??I???m going to let you in on a little secret (the gardeners among you might know this already)??? aside from the physical/health benefits of eating sprouts (which many people speak about) few people recognize sprouting for what it does to your??mental outlook. The process of growing your own sprouts is simply amazing! When I walk into my kitchen and see these little babies growing from seed to fresh sprout, it makes me smile and I???m reminded about the wonderfully healthy lifestyle I lead??? it???s impossible to miss it, because these little foods are growing and sprouting before my eyes.??It inspires me and I reflect on the clean, pure, fresh, and green lifestyle I???ve chosen for myself. It imbues a kind of energy, like warm sunlight shining on me, that is hard to describe, but every bit as real as their food/nutritional benefits. And,??if you have kids…this is one of the best activities that you can do together. It’s an awesome way to get kids excited about eating sprouts.

Sprouts are delicate, hearty by the handful, and bursting with delicious and nutritious juicy flavor with every bite. There is no doubt that sprouts are one of the healthiest foods you can consume because they’re considered a ???pre-digested??? food, making them more easily assimilated by your body. It???s during the sprouting process that the seeds??? protein transforms into amino acids, and the starch converts to simple sugars, making these optimal for digestion. They are a good source of vitamins A, C, E and B-vitamins; hence, they are a source of anti-oxidants. Plus, they contain chlorophyll. See? Gone are the days of pushing sprouts to the side. They are a staple in my lifestyle.

Get this! Researchers at John Hopkins University??found that broccoli sprouts can have as much as 30-50 times the concentration of protective chemicals found in the mature broccoli plants. Even though they can be a little stinky, they taste delicious so don’t let a little stench put you off. And, alfalfa sprouts have saponins in them, which have been found to bind to cholesterol to help prevent it from being absorbed into the body.??The University of Toronto??shows that dietary sources of saponins may lower the risk of human cancers, too. Not only that… check this out from University of Saskatchewan:

Broccoli Sprouts Eaten During Pregnancy May Provide Children with Life-long??Protection Against Heart Disease – U of S Study…??Eating broccoli sprouts during pregnancy may provide your kids with??life-long protection against cardiovascular disease, according to a research??team led by Bernhard Juurlink at the University of Saskatchewan… In effect, broccoli sprouts boost the body’s natural defenses against the??oxidative stress that causes high blood pressure and inflammation.??Surprisingly, this dietary change not only improves the health of the??expectant mothers, but also has a lasting effect on the offspring.

Pretty bad-ass, huh?

I enjoy sprouts in many different ways.??I eat them in salads, juice them, add them to my smoothies and simply snack on them by the handful all by themselves (before I leave the house, I throw a few handfuls of them into a baggie, squeeze a little fresh lemon, lime or orange juice on them, and toss it into my cooler for the day, along with my mason jars full of fresh green juice and green smoothie). They’re such a light and refreshing snack.

Want to learn how to grow your very own? Alright! I’m going to teach you. Written directions here and see below for a video I made.

There are two methods from which to choose for your sprouting. I use them both. You can use the old, tested, tried-and-true method of sprouting in??glass mason jars tipped upside down on an angle using a dish drying rack. I love this method (I started with this method) because of the aforementioned reasons (yesterday’s post) about seeing these in your kitchen growing while you tend to them only briefly each day. The other method is to use a machine, such as the??Tribest FreshLife Sprouter. I definitely like the FreshLife Sprouter and I do recommend using it. It???s easy (so is the jar method though, as you’ll see in the video below), but the FreshLife Sprouter plastic container they grow in is dark, so you can???t really see the little guys growing, which is really important to me. So, I do them both. I use the jar method and have 1-3 jars going at once. Then, so that I can grow even more sprouts to eat (or to grow wheatgrass), I use the FreshLife Sprouter.

Directions for the ???Jar Method???
You will need quart size or 1/2-gallon glass mason jars (both sizes are fine), plus plastic (or metal) screen lids (available online or at places like Whole Foods??? produce section ??? or just use cheesecloth with a rubber band, but this can get a little messy), a dish drying rack (the folding kind that looks like an X from the side), seeds, and water. You can use a variety of seeds, start with alfalfa and practice with that. Then, you can start adding other combinations such as clover, onion, broccoli, etc.

2 Tablespoons seeds
Filtered water

Soak the seeds in the water overnight in a half-gallon jar filled most of the way with filtered water. The following morning, drain them.

You will then be sprouting the seeds for approximately 5-6 days (tip them upside down and set them on an angle on the dish drying rack), rinsing them and draining them 1-2 times a day (usually only once/day is necessary, but there are times when they might seem dry and a second rinsing and draining might be helpful. Caution here though, if they???re too wet, they can get moldy.)??

You can sprout these on your counter top (out of direct sunlight). They don’t need to be covered or placed in a closet. On the last day or two of sprouting, you can give them a little extra sunlight to develop the chlorophyll. I still avoid direct sunlight for the most part so they don’t get dried out…maybe for a few minutes is fine, but then I put them back to their area on my countertop.

On about Day 6, rinse the sprouts in a large bowl of water to loosen their ???hulls??? (the outer shell of the seeds). Drain off the hulls and water. You’ll see that they easily come off as you gently agitate the water with your hands. Put the sprouts back into the jar and on the counter for this last day.??Store them in the refrigerator for up to a week in an airtight container or a glass sprouting jar covered with a mesh screen. Continue to rinse and drain every few days until you???ve gobbled them all up!

Remember, you???re starting one jar, but when that jar is done, you???ll have to wait another 6-7 days to enjoy sprouts again. For this reason, I recommend always having about three jars going. Start one; then start another, two days later; and then another, two days later; and so on.

If you get mold??or your sprouts don???t turn out for any other reason, don???t worry, just try again. You???ll quickly get the hang of it and develop a sense for when to rinse and drain them. My first attempt years ago was not a success. But, my second attempt and on have been pure sprouting bliss! Note… if you’re growing broccoli sprouts and after a few days you notice something that looks like mold, it’s probably not! The roots have little hairs that stick out as they dry but once you rinse them, they go back down.

Mung Sprouts
Mung sprouts take less time to sprout (Yay!). Follow the same instructions as above, using 1/4 cup seeds. And, they???re ready to eat within 2-3 days. No hulling is needed for these; you can eat them once they have their little sprouted tails. These are an excellent source of fresh amino acids!

Want to see my video showing you how to grow sprouts?

I usually buy my sprout seeds??here but there are many great sources on the web.??Enjoy!

Go Vegan & You’re Going Green – Booyah!

February 25th, 2010 by

There are three main reasons that people live a vegan lifestyle: Animal Rights Health Environment. Some people focus on one and some focus on all three. Personally, my primary reason for going vegan was for animal rights. I had always been interested in healthy living, so that was a major bonus. But when I learned about the ways it helps the environment, I was blown away.

For the purposes of this blog, I’m going to break it down for you??Green Style, and write about how going vegan helps the environment.

One of my favorite t-shirts. I wear it with pride.

Before I begin, I want to define what living a vegan lifestyle means. Basically, when I call myself a vegan it means that I eschew consuming/ purchasing all animal products and by-products (this includes food, body care products, furniture, clothing, etc). So, it means no eggs, no dairy, no meat, no fish, no wool, no honey, no silk, no leather, etc. It even means that some beers and wines are a no-no (look for the “vegan” label on it – see my blog post here about vegan wines). If it comes from an animal, I don’t buy it. Now, let me clarify something. I do have leather purses and shoes in my closet, and our car has leather seats. All of these things were purchased prior to going vegan, and even though I don’t use the purses or shoes, I find it wasteful to throw them out and replace them. That wouldn’t be very environmental. Some have sentimental value to me so I’m fine with just letting them stay in my closet. As for the car, well, we need our car and we’re not about to replace it because it has leather seats. That being said, we don’t purchase anything going forward that has animal products or by-products in it.

How does living a vegan lifestyle reduce your carbon footprint? Oh let me count the ways we’re helping our beautiful planet!

An organic vegan diet can significantly reduce greenhouse gases. There are different factors that can come into play. For example, if you eat a vegan diet, but you consume lots of foods grown conventionally in other countries, then it’s not as reduced as if you ate a vegan diet that is local and organic. Nonetheless, it’s a massively reduced carbon footprint to eat plants instead of animals.

According to GoVeg.com

A 2006 United Nations report found that the meat industry produces more greenhouse gases than all the SUVs, cars, trucks, planes, and ships in the world??combined. And, eating 1 pound of meat emits the same amount of greenhouse gasses as driving an SUV 40 miles.

Water: “In 2000, the World Commission on Water predicted that the increase in water use in the future due to rising population will ‘impose intolerable stresses on the environment, leading not only to a loss of biodiversity, but also to a vicious circle in which the stresses on the ecosystem [will] no longer provide the services [necessary] for plants and people.’” (John Robbins’ book, The Food Revolution.) How is eating animals attacking our water supply? According to vegsource.com, “To date, probably the most reliable and widely-accepted water estimate to produce a pound of beef is the figure of 2,500 gallons/pound.??Newsweek once put it another way: ‘the water that goes into a 1,000 pound steer would float a destroyer.’??Not surprisingly, the beef industry promotes a study that determined, using highly suspect calculations, that only 441 gallons of water are required to produce a pound of beef.”

Have you heard of the Ogallala aquifer (also known as the High Plains aquifer)? It’s believed to be the largest body of fresh water on earth and stretches from Texas to South Dakota. Pretty impressive, huh? Well, it’s in danger. You see, it’s a fossil aquifer which means that the water is from the melted glaciers of the last Ice Age. The problem is that since the beginning of factory farming, we’re using more and more of this precious resource and some estimates say it could dry up in 25 years. According to John Robbins, more water is taken from it for beef than is used to grow all the fruits and vegetables in the entire country. Once it’s gone, it’s gone. (The water eventually ends up in the oceans, where it’s no longer usable.)

Pollution: Factory farming greatly contributes to the destruction of our topsoil and is a huge source of pollution. It’s pretty disgusting actually. According to the Union of Concerned Scientists, “The contamination of the nation’s waterways from [pork] manure run-off is extremely serious. Twenty tons of [pork and other] livestock manure are produced for every household in the country.” Heck, just look at the increase of plant-food recalls due to E. Coli, often seen in outbreaks involving hamburger meat. It??hardly seems fair that my organic spinach could become tainted because of factory farming. Arghh!

Destruction of Tropical Rainforests: The rainforest is the home to countless species of amazing animals and potentially lifesaving medicines. But, we’re destroying it at a rapid rate… all for a friggin’ artery-clogging burger. John Robbins writes, “Every second, an area the size of a football field is destroyed forever…” and the number one reason for this destruction is to make room for grazing cattle. This is a double-whammy: cutting down the trees that remove CO2 from the atmosphere to make room for cows that pump millions of tons of methane into the atmosphere. While increasing heart disease and obesity. It’s utter insanity… I want to weep when I think about it.

I could go on and on with facts upon facts. The bottom line is that our increased population and its habits are destroying our home, earth. It’s not as if we have an alternate planet, like Pandora (pictured here) in the movie Avatar, waiting for us to move to. No, we need to work on saving what we have now, here on earth. There are various ways to help slow this destruction, and living a vegan lifestyle is HUGE. It isn’t hard. In fact, I love it. I’m very proud of my lifestyle and how it’s reduced my carbon footprint. I feel amazing as a result. I’ve written in detail about how this awesome lifestyle has touched me mentally, physically and spiritually here in this blog post.

I’m not sure how many of my readers are vegan, but I understand that it can take time to change. For me it was over the course of a week, which isn’t always the case for others. I was reading the book, Diet for a New America and by the time I finished the book, I was a vegan. In fact, while reading the book in Starbucks on my many occasions, people came up to me and said, “That book will change your life.” Pretty powerful. If you haven’t read it, I highly recommend it, along with John Robbins’ other book, The Food Revolution. These books are truly life-changing. They are filled with compelling information about how a vegan lifestyle can help your health, animals, and the earth beyond anything you ever knew. While I’m at it, there are a couple of other great books that can really get you fired up about a plant-based diet: The China Study and Skinny Bitch. (It was The China Study which really moved my husband into the vegan lifestyle.)

I’m here to help! Please visit my other blog, Kristen’s Raw for great, easy, delicious, and high energy vegan recipes that can help make this lifestyle super-duper fun. And, feel free to ask me questions in the comment section below. Baby steps are perfectly fine if that is what it takes. You can make changes one meal at a time or one day at a time. Perhaps you make all of your breakfasts and lunches vegan or eat 100% vegan 2 days a week. Every time you say no to animal products, you’re helping our earth. It’s a wonderful thing! Do it for yourself. Do it for your family and loved ones. Do it for your planet!

(P.S. Perhaps you’re already vegan, or heading in that direction, and you wonder about thesocial implications of dating a carnivore. Check out my blog post over at my Kristen’s Raw blog??To Date Or Not To Date A Carnivore for my story and some tips. Oh, and one more thing… for those of you who get asked about protein on a vegan diet, or who have questions yourselves, check out what my husband does to keep his super sexy vegan physique.)