Saturday, May 12, 2012

Grain-Free, Sugar-Free, GAPS Chocolate Cake Recipe

Before going on the GAPS diet this past January, we were on a Gluten-Free diet for about two years.  One of my favorite recipes I discovered during that time was Gluten Free Goddesses Flourless Chocolate Cake.!  This stuff is delicious!  I dare say it's the best cake I've ever had.  Moist, delicious, yummyness! 

But, it does have sugar.  And since GAPS is a sugar-free diet, I had to figure out a way to adapt the recipe.  So, here's what I came up with:

Grain-Free, Sugar-Free, GAPS Chocolate Cake:

8 pastured eggs
1 C butter (room temp, preferably cut up into pieces)
1/4 C cocoa powder
1 T vanilla extract
3/4 C hot coffee
1 1/2 C raw, local honey

Put the above ingredients in your blender, and mix.

Pour into a greased 9" square or round pan.  I grease mine with coconut oil, but you could also use pastured butter. 

Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour, or until a knife comes out clean. It will be really puffy when you pull it out of the oven, but will soon shrink down to a dense, moist, delicious cake. 


Thursday, May 10, 2012

Coming Out of the Closet

I've thought about writing this post for YEARS.  Yes, years.

But I've been afraid.

Afraid that people will judge me, and think I'm weird, and that I'm permissive with my kids or something, and that I'm harming them, and that I'm....just...weird.

I'm not weird.  I promise.  At least I don't think I am!  Before having kids, I was so mainstream, it's not even funny.  How did I get to be such a hippie?  That's a long answer, and I'll need to do it in another post, but much of the answer has to do with becoming a parent. 

I just want to do the best thing for my kids.  Emotionally, nutritionally, educationally, physically, spiritually.  I want the best for them in their lives.  I want to do the best job as Mommy that I can.  It's my vocation, and I want to do it well.

Wanting to do it well spurred me on to research a lot as I became a parent.  I've read a lot on breastfeeding, and a long time ago (when The Princess was a baby) decided I would let my kids self-wean, because that is what I deemed best for them.  {For more info on extended breastfeeding, and why I chose it, see this article.}

The Princess nursed until she was three years, nine months old.  I was already pregnant with Baby Brother by this time, and was nursing both Little Brother, and The Princess.  I wasn't sure how I was going to tandem nurse all three of them if she continued on, seeing as how God only gave me two boobs, but I was OK with with trying, if that's what would happen.  Thankfully, she gave up on the Nursies when there was no milk on tap (due to my pregnancy).  Little Brother, on the other hand, continued on, and still nurses like a champ at three years, four months old.  I don't think he's planning on stopping anytime soon.  And I'm nowhere near pregnant, so I should have plenty of milk on tap for both the boys, for quite awhile. 

Whenever I have considered coming clean with my breastfeeding choices, I've remembered back to a time when I worked at a large church in Orange County, in the Children's Ministry.  I remember sitting in my office, with all the other women (moms) on staff, and they were joking and making fun of people who nurse their toddlers. This was pre-kids for me, and I didn't think much of it, other than, "Ya, those moms ARE weird! (I think?)"  These moms were talking about how "When your kid can ask for it, you know you've gone too far", and how "That's just WRONG!". 

Then I decided to be one of those moms.  Uh-oh.

And this is why I've been in the closet.  But I'm coming out.  This TIME magazine cover that was released today was my inspiration. 

Maybe I am weird.  But ya know? I'm ok with that.  I'm confident in my choices, and hope that people can respect my decisions, and understand that these decisions have been based on research and thoughtful consideration.  I NEVER would have imagined myself as this kind of mom.  I never planned on being this kind of mom. Honestly, when I pictured myself as a mom, I assumed I'd work, my kids would probably go to public school, I'd vaccinate my kids, and I'd spank my kids when they disobeyed me, just like all other "normal" American parents. Now I'm a Stay-At-Home mom who homeschools my kids, doesn't vaccinate, and practices Gentle Discipline.  Someday I'll explain how I got here.

For now, I'm starting by coming out.

Ahhhh......that feels good. 

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Homemade Toothpaste

I've been wanting to do this for SO long! For awhile I had a hard time finding a recipe that seemed simple, yet not gross. I also tried straight baking soda for awhile. It's ok, but kinda salty tasting, and was a little harsh on my gums.

I have known for a long time that toothpaste is filled with horrible chemicals that we should not be ingesting, but just haven't gotten around to getting it out of my house (what took me so long??). Even the healthy brands have ingredients I

A) can't pronounce, and

B) have no idea what it is.

Usually if A or B is true, I avoid it like the plague. Chances are it's bad for me. And I don't want to put bad-for-me-things in my body. Just trying to reduce the toxic load here, Folks. Reduce the toxic load.

Most toothpaste also contains fluoride, a poisonous waste byproduct that is known to cause damage to our brains.  You may choose to believe your dentist that unless you ingest fluoride, your teeth are going to crumble and fall out.  I don't buy that though.  I believe the bad faaaaaar outweighs the good when it comes to fluoride.  If there is any good to begin with. 

Did you know that toothpaste is technically a "cosmetic" according to the FDA? Therefore, since it's not considered to be something that will go inside your body, the standards are very low, and there's a lot more toxicity than you'd think. I for one watch my kids swallow that stuff like it's candy! And I get horrified at the thought of those nasty chemicals making their way through their little bodies. Yuck.

So, the other day I had this uber awesome day of being ever so productive.

(Don't ask my kids what they did...

...Um...something had to give, OK?

It was my focused attention on my kids.

And well, they watched a couple videos.)

Anyway...I made lotion (post coming soon on that one), and toothpaste. Here's my recipe. I adapted it from a couple other ones I found online.

3 Tablespoons coconut oil

3 Tablespoons baking soda

1/2 Teaspoon green stevia powder (not pictured above). The white stuff is processed, and not good for you.

About 20 drops of Spearmint Essential Oils (or another flavor you prefer).

I melted my coconut oil in my double boiler. If yours is soft enough, just use it soft. If it's winter, and your coconut oil is hard, melt it over the stove, not in a microwave. Microwaving things changes the molecular structure, and it's then not good for you to consume.

Once your coconut oil is soft enough, mix it with the rest of the ingredients.

I stored mine in this little 4 oz Mason jar I got at a garage sale last summer. This is a picture from before I put the stevia in.

Here's a pic from after I put it in

The taste wasn't that great before the stevia. The stevia makes it slightly sweet, and you taste less of the baking soda. The Hot Contractor is forever ruined over coconut oil (I used to have him take it by the spoonful because he loved it, and we were trying it on him for medicinal purposes.). He now hates it. Sad.

I, however, think it's great! I'm totally going to keep using it (as long as my gums don't mind...I'm hoping that with other ingredients than just baking soda, it won't be an issue anymore). I'm also going to let my kids ingest it until their little hearts are content. Plus, it's actually really good for them! Coconut oil is such a great oil for us to consume in large quantities. And baking soda helps balance the pH of the body, so I say, "eat away, my children, eat away!"

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Cloth Diapering

I've had a few people ask me over the years my advice on cloth diapering.  Although I am no expert, and honestly, a bit rusty as it's been five years since I really researched the topic, I am happy to share.  Recently a friend on Facebook asked me to help out her friend, so instead of re-writing my thoughts, I figured I'd compile them here, and direct future questioners here.  =)

There are lots of options when it comes to Cloth Diapering (CDing).  There are pre-folds, which are kind of the "old fashioned" way of doing diapers.  You fold the cloth up and put a cover over it.  These are the cheapest way to go, but also the most work, I think. 

There's also All-In-Ones (AIO).  These are basically the convenience of disposables, since they're just one unit. There's no folding or stuffing. I've had AIOs before, and the biggest downside to these is they take FOR-E-VER to dry!  For this reason alone, I don't recommend them.  Unless you enjoy running your dryer twice, just to dry one load. 

There are also Hybrid Diapers, like G-Diapers, where they're re-usable covers, with disposable, biodegradable inserts to put inside.  If you're out to save the planet, these might be for you.  But if your goal is to be frugal, these are not it!  The liners cost more than disposables, and you still have to buy the expensive covers. I'm not a fan of this option.  I just use disposables when I need disposables, and do cloth the rest of the time. 

And then there's Pocket Diapers.  My favorite.  Not as much work as pre-folds, and sill dry relatively quickly (unlike AIOs).  They are diapers with a "pocket" in them that you stuff with an insert. I have hemp inserts, and they are awesome!  Hemp absorbs FOUR TIMES it's weight in liquid, so they hold a lot before they leak.  I've tried terry cloth/cotton inserts, and I.hate.them.  They don't last 30 minutes before they're leaky.  What's the point of cloth diapers if they're not going to work?  I've know a few moms who only tried cotton or terry cloth inserts, and ended up giving up on cloth diapers because they were so frustrating.  I believe they've now replaced many of the hemp ones with bamboo inserts.  I don't know much about bamboo's absorbency, but only that it's really eco-friendly because it grows so quickly, and is easily reproducible. 

I personally used to use Happy Heineys pocket diapers. They used to come in Small, Medium, and Large (I believe now they come in One Size).  But then, my kids get so big, that even the size Large become too small for them by the age of two.  So, I was forced to buy more cloth diapers.  I figured I better find something that would last, since I was buying them for the second time. I did some research, and found Blueberry Diapers to be ones that fit larger kids.  I buy the One-Size (OS) Blueberry diapers.  They're expensive up front, but after three kids and years of use, we've saved thousands of dollars.

I should explain sizing, I suppose.  You can go with a brand that comes in Small, Medium, and Large, and buy a set of diapers for each stage of your baby  (which gets expensive, but the fit is a lot more precise), or you can buy OS diapers, which grow with your child.  They snap up smaller when they're little, and expand as they grow.  The only downside to this is that they're really bulky on newborns.  Even on my 10.5 lb newborns, I don't prefer to use OS diapers until they're older.  I still have my set of small Happy Heineys that I use for the newborn stage.  Once they grow out of those, I put them in my Blueberry OS diapers. 

How many diapers do you need? 
I think for the newborn stage, you are changing diapers so frequently, that you need a lot.  I have 24 small Happy Heineys that I use early on.  Once they're bigger, you don't change them as frequently, and you can use less.  Since I often have two kids in diapers at once, I own eighteen of the Blueberry OS diapers. 

I wash my diapers every other day or every two days.  I keep them in a wet bag until it's time to wash.  If there are solids, I scrape them out into the toilet, then put them in the wet bag.  I'm not anal about getting off every bit of solid...just the big bits (sorry for the TMI!). Then I wash them on hot with some diaper-safe detergent.  There are lots out there. Most "free and clear" ones are not good to use on your diapers.  You don't want anything that will coat your diapers, and make them not absorb as much (especially fabric softener).  I always add a little baking soda and vinegar to my loads (like a small amount...a couple tablespoons of each).  Vinegar is a natural water-softener, and baking soda keeps things white.  Together, they're a great team in the laundry.  I actually use them in every load of laundry I do. 

If you ever do get some build up on your cloth diapers, you can always strip them, and they'll start absorbing better, and won't stink.  

Well, I think that's it! Hope that helps you all.  If you have any questions, leave them in the comments and I'll try to answer them.  Again, I'm rusty, and no expert, but I'm happy to help a Cloth Diaper Newbie!

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Chicken Harvesting

Today we processed all our hens, and our one remaining rooster. We figured, we got these chickens for free (on Freecycle), and have spent a fortune on Organic, Corn-free, Soy-free Feed, and have received less than a dozen eggs from the Lovely Ladies in the last two months. We figured they've probably passed their prime, and won't likely pick up production that much once the weather warms up. Buuuuut, since we know they are healthy...why not make dinners out of them?!?!

So we did just that. This was the third or fourth time in the last two months that we've processed chickens. People kept giving us their homegrown/ free-range roosters, which we gladly received. Needless to say, we've got the process down to a science.

The Hot Contractor and The Princess did all the outside work, while I did all the inside work (and took care of The Brothers).

Here's The Princess, helping Dad

She'd help catch them. A few got out of the coop. Those ones were captured with the .22 riffle.

Once they caught them, The Hot Contractor would cut off their heads. The Princess would assist him with the scissors, etc.

This is where he'd remove their innards and de-feather them.

He dipped them in our big canning crock with hot water (on our camping stove) to remove the feathers.

Then he'd bring them in the house to me.

I'd dump them in the sink, wash and separate livers, hearts, necks, and feet. Then I'd wash the birds, and put one bird in a Ziplock, with one neck and two feet (to be used to make bone broth after we eat the chicken).

Then Little Brother helped me spread out the hearts and livers on a cookie sheet, and we stuck them in the freezer. We're going to be cutting them up into pill-size pieces, and taking them daily. Liver (from a healthy, pastured animal) is probably THE most amazingly healthful food one can consume. We want those benefits, and since our liver pills are gone, we need to replenish our supply.

I haven't get decided what I'm going to do with the chicken hearts yet. We may cook them in the crock pot with some BBQ sauce. I've never eaten chicken hearts, but I know they're good for us, and I hate wasting things, so I'm sure we'll find something to do with them!

Here's a pic of Little Brother. He was too cold to be outside for long, but he loved watching the action (especially the .22 action!) from the window.

It was a good, productive day. And now we have twelve more chickens in our freezer. Between the chickens and the deer, we won't need to buy meat!