Thursday, November 20, 2008

I've been wearing the same pants all week

My DH has this theory that when you get a new piece of clothing you can wear it many times before you have to wash it. I've been trying to disabuse him of this theory lately, since I think it is very important to wash new clothes multiple times before wearing them, to remove as many of the nasty chemicals as possible. Things like formaldehyde, that is embedded in clothes to preserve them (yuck!). Not to mention the residues from pesticides, herbicides and fertilizers if you are not buying certified organic cotton clothes. Not to mention the residues from inks and dyes if you are not using natural, plant-based colors.

My mission lately has been to only buy clothes that are either second hand (and therefore have had most of the nasty residues washed off), organic cotton, or bamboo. This brings me to the pants that I wore for 6 days in a row. They were new. I was going to wash them before wearing them, even though they are bamboo, and therefore have less nasty chemicals than most. But what happened was, I got them out of the box (I ordered them online from Sahara Bloom) to try them on, to make sure they fit before washing them, and they are so incredibly THE most comfortable pants I have ever worn that I just couldn't take them off. I kept meaning to wash them, but I kept putting them on instead... once I even wore them all day, then slept in them and wore them the next day too! I'm not wearing them today (that would just be gross!), but clearly, I can't stop thinking about them, so I thought I'd share them with you. I also bought some very cute bamboo kids t-shirts for my beautiful organic boy, and some of his friends. I'm so glad that the wonderful Melissa from Sahara Bloom listened to me and her other loyal customers and brought out toddler clothes. She also has a new line of bamboo baby clothes that are made in Australia!.

Bamboo is so amazingly soft, it is perfect for babies, but also for moms like me who work from home, and don't have to get suited up every day... it's comfy as the comfiest pjs, but still looks nice enough to wear out. A few months ago I went through my closet and took 10 bags of clothes to the Salvation Army. I think it is so important to support places like this that recycle clothes and household goods, allowing everyone to reduce their ecological footprints, while saving money and supporting charities. If you don't already do so, you should check out your local thrift stores, opp shops, whatever you call them, and support them by buying from them, donating unwanted goods, or even volunteering your time, as my wonderful mother-in-law does.

I had a few really nice, expensive, woolen suits from my past life as a corporate lawyer (environmental law, but still!). I never wear them anymore, but I had trouble getting rid of them because they were so expensive, and I couldn't be bothered putting them on ebay. Instead I donated them to a fantastic group called Fitted for Work. This Australian charity helps women wanting to get back into the work force with outfits to wear at interviews, and gives them basic training on interviewing skills etc as well. There are similar organizations all over the world, many of which are members of the Women's Alliance.

While I'm singing the praises of wonderful charities, I might as well mention one I saw on Facebook recently: The Girl Effect. Great little inspirational video. Now I'm going to go wash those pants!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

don't you eat?

I'm supposed to be working today, not blogging, but something funny just happened to me so I thought I'd share...

I was walking home from the train station, and a woman was taking her grandson for a walk. She looked right at me and said: "don't you eat?". I stared blankly at her... so she said: "look at you, you are so skinny, don't you eat?". I must admit, I took some offense at this remark, because I do eat, and I told her so. But then I thought about what I eat, and how I don't ever have to worry about how much I eat, because the stuff I eat is never going to make me gain weight... trust me, I've tried!

So what do I eat? It's probably easier to explain what I don't eat. I never eat any dairy or wheat. I eat very little sugar, alcohol or caffeine, and I cook most of my food from scratch. Almost everything is organic, fresh, and local. I do eat meat, but it is all organic and free range. I eat fish as much as I can, but not too much, as I worry about mercury and persistent organic pollutants that hyper-accumulate up the food chain. I drink lots of water, and not much else.

I don't exercise very much... I think running around after a two year old is pretty good at keeping you fit, but I do do Pilates twice a week when I can, since I'm prone to a bad back. I also walk as much as I can, rather than driving.

Since I didn't have all day to explain this to the grandmother, I just said: "Yes, I do eat, I eat a lot, but I don't eat any dairy or wheat." And this is the advice that I would give anyone who is trying to lose weight. I stopped eating wheat 10 years ago, and I haven't been able to gain weight since then... even when I was pregnant, I gained only as much as I needed to have a healthy baby, but it all dropped back off as soon as he was born. I'm not saying this to brag, or make you jealous, but really just to say that there is a pretty simple way to lose weight, without worrying about diets or going to the gym... if you try cutting out all dairy and wheat I will be extraordinarily surprised if you don't lose weight... and you will probably have lots of other health benefits as well. I could explain all of these to you now, but sadly I haven't the time... but I will soon, I promise!

Happy eating!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

and now for the good news....

DH suggested that I write something positive for a change... and luckily I have something positive to say! Since I discovered that I am sensitive to salicylates and amines, and have been off them for over a month, I have just made it through the first few days of my period without taking any drugs... this may not sound impressive, or it may be too much information, but for me it is huge. I have had painful periods for most of my life. They get better when I'm on the pill, but the pill has lots of problems (story for another day) so I've been off it for a few years, and this makes my periods worse. Drugs help (especially Ibuprofen) but they also have problems (another story for yet another day) so I have been keen to get off them too, as they don't really fit in with my super-healthy pre-conception plan. So this is a real breakthrough for me! I still needed a hot water bottle to get through the day, but I made it drug-free, which helps to make up for the fact that I haven't eaten any fruit except pears for a long time!

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Why everything I thought I knew is being turned upside down...

Big apologies for not posting recenly... I know I promised a blow-by-blow of our pre-conception detox, but things got a bit de-railed, and we went off on a journey of discovery that has solved lifelong mysteries (mostly of the bumps on your skin, pains in your tummy type) and turned my world upside down and inside out.... I don't have time to go into the details now (I never do, which is why I never post, so I figured something was better than nothing)...

So, to give an idea of what I don't have time to post about (and may never, but you never know...), I have recently discovered, through the course of doing an elimination diet and subsequent research, that:

-Organic food can actually make me sicker (in the short term.... but conventional food will still kill you in the longer term) because it is naturally higher in salicylates, a naturally occuring chemical to which I, and my organic toddler are both very sensitive.

- Far from being healthy, fruit is one of the worst things I can eat, especially organic fruit, because of the aforementioned salicylates. The only fruit we can eat at the moment is peeled pears... (recipes for pear crumble, pear muffins, pear pancakes etc to come...)

- I have been diligently avoiding sun in the middle of the day for years, when actually that is the best, and safest time to get much needed sun exposure, as the beneficial UVB rays are highest and the harmful UVA rays are lowest in intensity... I had been doing the opposite, and exposing myself to more damage in the early morning and late afternoon when UVA is higher, and missing out on the important UVB rays that help make vitamin D!

- Microwave ovens are still evil, but using them to cook and defrost meat (which should still be organic, no matter what... if you can't afford it then eat less meat!) can help to control the breakdown of protein into amines, another one of those "naturally occurring" chemicals that makes me and my whole little organic family sick!

So, as if all this wasn't enough, I am now in the process of feeding my beautiful baby (who is of course no longer a baby) gluten every day for a week, so that he can have a blood test for coeliac disease, even though the gluten is clearly not reacting well with him. This is a very painful thing for a mother to do... to keep feeding something to your child that you know is not good for them, but if he doesn't have the gluten in his system then the blood test won't work...

I'll let you know how we go.

Friday, August 22, 2008

The big detox takes a detour...

I'm sorry I didn't write anything last week... it's not for lack of something to write, but rather an inability to chose from the myriad of topics that have been bubbling away since we started the big detox almost three weeks ago. I wanted to write about the amazing Michelle, who came and did an environmental check on our house, including testing our water (filtered and unfiltered tap water -- the Brita Maxtra filer actually works pretty well!), testing our urine for heavy metals (mine was good, the toddler's was not as good... need to work on that), and telling us to avoid using cordless phones, cell phones, and wireless internet access (all of which I knew, but hadn't implemented), and showing us where the electro-magnetic hotspots in the house were (like sitting near the fridge) and how to avoid them (move to the other side of the table).

I also wanted to write about how excited I was that I didn't have any pre-menstrual pimples this month!!! I'm pretty sure it's because I have been taking cod liver oil daily for the last month. My skin hasn't felt this good ever! Even the tiny little bumps that I sometimes get on my cheeks are almost all gone. I think if I could only take one supplement, it would have to be cod liver oil.

BUT.... this is not what I want to write about today. Today I am about to plunge into what will quiet possibly be the most monumentally life-changing culinary adventure ever.

We are about to go start an elimination diet devised by Sue Dengate of the
Food Intolerance Network who wrote the book Fed Up.
The program is designed to support for families using a low-chemical elimination diet free of additives, low in salicylates, amines and flavour enhancers (FAILSAFE) for health, behaviour and learning problems. We know that our son is sensitive to salicylates (naturally occurring chemicals in most fruits and some vegetables). If he eats fruit (other than pears) he breaks out in hives and becomes hyperactive. And we know that DH is sensitive to amines (naturally occurring in foods such as chocolate, bananas, meat and fish as proteins break down) - if he has too much he gets migraines and throws up a lot. We know that I am allergic to dairy and gluten intolerant (and heaps of other foods). But what we don't know, is whether the toddler is sensitive to amines, whether DH is sensitive to salicylates, and whether I am sensitive to either or both. I'm pretty sure somethings going on, because after reading the list of symptoms in Sue's book Fed Up, I had a huge "Ah-Ha" moment. (Oprah should do a show about this book!).

I will write more on this soon, but for now I will leave you with the list of some of the many symptoms of food intolerance that can be helped by diet, according to the Food Intolerance Network: (I have put in bold the symptoms that I, or members of our families have had, either as children or adults. If you are related to me or my husband, and have symptoms (or your kids do) that I have not listed in bold, then email me and let me know so that I can update the list... it will be interesting to see how many of these symptoms disappear!)

Airways: Asthma, Stuffy blocked or runny nose/ nasal polyps, Frequent nose bleeds, Catarrh, chronic throat-clearing, Sinusitis, Frequent ear infections, Frequent tonsillitis, Frequent colds and flu, symptoms of Samter’s Triad

Skin: Eczema, Urticaria (hives), Cradlecap, Other skin rashes, Angioedema (swollen lips, eyes, tongue), Geographic tongue, Pruritis (itching), Allergic shiners (dark circles under eyes), Pallor (pale skin), Flushing, Excessive sweating, Body odour, Sore vagina in children

Digestive system: Recurrent mouth ulcers, Indigestion, Nausea, Bad breath, Vomiting, Diarrhea, Stomach ache, Bloating, Reflux in babies, adults, Constipation, Colic in babies, adults, Sluggish bowel syndrome (feeling of "more to come"), Soiling (sneaky poos)

Bladder: Bedwetting, Daytime incontinence, Urinary urgency, Recurrent inflammation (cystitis)

Skeletal: Growing pains, Arthritis

Eyes: Nystagmus (involuntary movement), Blurred vision

Muscles: Low muscle tone, Myalgia (muscle pain), Tics (involuntary movement), Tremor

Heart: Rapid heart beat, Heart palpitations, Cardiac arrhythmias, Pseudo heart attack (feeling of impending doom, chest pressure, pain down arm), Tachycardia (fast heart beat), Angina-type pain, HHT

Central nervous system: Headaches or migraines, unexplained tiredness, Chronic fatigue, Feeling 'hung-over', Confusion, Dizziness, Agitation, Tinnitus (noises in ear), Hyperacusis, Paraesthesia (pins and needles), Dysaesthesia (numbness), Hypoglycemia, Epileptic seizures, Sensory symptoms of multiple sclerosis, Symptoms of lupus

Anxiety: Panic attacks, Depression, Self harm, Suicidal thoughts, actions

Impaired memory: Vague or forgetful, Unable to concentrate, Won't persevere, Unmotivated, Disorganised, Easily distracted, Difficulty reading and writing

Speech: Loud voice (no volume control), Speech hard to understand, Speech delay, Selective mutism, Stuttering, Repetitive noises, Talks too much (empty chatter)

Coordination: Poor handwriting, Poor coordination, Frequent accidents

Sleep: Difficulty falling asleep, Restless legs syndrome (RLS), Persistent night waking, Insomnia, Nightmares/night terrors/sleepwalking

Mood: Mood swings, Premenstrual tension, Grizzly or unhappy, Cries easily or often, Irritable, Uncooperative Oppositional defiance: ODD, Loses temper, Argumentative, Refuses requests, Defies rules, Deliberately annoys others, Blames others for own mistakes, Touchy, easily annoyed, Angry, resentful

Other behaviour: ADHD, ADD, Autism, Aspergers, Inattentive, easily bored, unmotivated, Restless, fidgety or overactive, Head banging, Fights with siblings, Difficulty making friends, Destructive, aggressive, Unreasonable, Demanding, never satisfied, Disruptive, Discipline is ineffective.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

I feel like crap, so the detox must be working…

I don’t feel that bad, just a bit like I’ve been hit by a truck. I’m exhausted without doing anything. I’m not sick, nothing hurts, I just have very little energy, and as DH just discovered, I’m a bit sensitive and grumpy! I’m trying to make the most of the process, lazy hours reading in bed, or just lying in bed doing nothing. I’m not that sleepy, just wiped out. I just had a nice long hot bath with lots of baking soda (helps to draw out the toxins) while sipping a cup of dandelion tea (helps the liver detox) that DH kindly made for me. He is doing very well with his detox. His main issue is tea, which he loves, but he gets terrible headaches when he doesn’t have enough at the right time. When we did the first detox three and a half years ago he was pretty sick for a week while he went through the caffeine withdrawl. This time around he is doing it more gradually. Cutting out coffee first, then switching to a low-caffeine Ceylon tea, and then to white tea. While he has had mild headaches at times, it’s a lot more pleasant than the first time around! That is one of the advantages of starting the detox six months before we want to conceive… we’re not in a quite so much of a hurry, so we can take a gentler approach.

There are also lots of things that we have cut out completely since the first time around, such as toxic household and persona care products. While we are still not perfect in this arena, there are a lot toxins in our lives these days, so the detox is not as much hard work as it was the first time. The second time round I am focusing more on adding in nourishing, beneficial foods and supplements to our diet, than on cutting out bad ones. The main things I have to cut out (not that I have much of them to begin with) are sugar, alcohol and caffeine (in that order). I’m already non-dairy and gluten-free, so that makes things easier.

I really don’t have much sugar, since I’m allergic to most things that have sugar in them, but it sneaks into your diet in insidious ways…. ketchup, jam, toothpaste (not mine) peanut butter (which I don’t eat, but it’s in the sunflower substitute I like), etc. I already avoid corn syrup (one of THE most EVIL “foods” around) religiously. So for me it’s things like honey, fruit juices, dried fruit, and other things with naturally occurring sugars.

Alcohol is probably the worst thing I have regularly, but I only have a few glasses a week, usually of organic red wine. Red wine does have some health benefits, but it is also pretty hard on the liver, so I’m taking a break during the detox, and the pregnancy, and the breastfeeding, so I’m pretty much not going to be able to have wine for about the next 3 years. Now I’m going to cry. I must admit I did drink the occasional half glass of wine while breastfeeding the first time around. But I absolutely did not drink at all during pregnancy. I was also very very good during the four month detox before getting pregnant, however I did have one bad night at a friends wedding in Bali only a few weeks before getting pregnant. My son can blame any of his future health problems on that night. The good thing is that I was already so detoxed that by body would have been able to process the alcohol very quickly. Or so I keep telling myself.

The caffeine thing is pretty easy for me, since I don’t really like black tea, and I only have coffee once or twice a month, since it gives me the jitters. My main source of caffeine is dark chocolate, which is very hard to resist, and very good for you, if it’s not combined with too much sugar and other processed additives. My one deviation from the detox since last wrote was a piece of vegan, gluten-free chocolate cake. It’s so rare that I can find pastries that I’m not totally allergic to that I couldn’t resist… But if that’s the worst thing I had all week I think I’m doing pretty well… Now I’m off to apply my detox foot patches (more on these soon) and go to bed!

Sunday, August 03, 2008

it all starts NOW!

So this is it. The BIG detox. It all starts now. Actually it was supposed to start on Friday, and I was pretty good on friday, no caffeine, no alcohol, no sugar... but then it was saturday, and someone offered me a decaf rice milk cappuccino (yes I am a freak) and I couldn't say no, as it's not often you can have such an obscure beverage, and then someone else offered me a glass of wine on saturday night, and I felt that I really needed to have one last farewell drink, given that I am giving it it for probably the next three years or so... so I did. But now I'm done... no more toxins will be entering my body if I can help it. There are a lot of toxins I can't help.... such as living in a major city, but I'm going to take control of the more controllable ones, such as what goes into my mouth and onto my skin, and what comes into my house, and more importantly, what I'm kicking out!

Why am I doing this to myself you may ask?

Because I want to have another organic baby.

Not now. Not in nine months. But in 15 months. So I'm starting now. Last time we started detoxing four months before conceiving. That was the minimum time recommended based on the maturation of eggs and sperm. (More on this soon). But this time I'm starting a bit early, as I want the actual detox to be done four months before we start, so that we just have four months of optimal health as the eggs and sperm are preparing. And yes, that means DH is doing it too! He's currently weaning himself off his rather serious caffeine addiction, so I'm typing very quietly.... shhhhh.

I promise to update the blog at least once a week until we get pregnant (and beyond). And you, my dear blog readers will be the first to know. This will be the step-by-step guide to making an organic baby that I have been promising for so long.... here it is. Enjoy.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

why I don't get to read as much as I used to

I have a problem with my bowels. They’re too efficient. For the last couple of years I have been taking a certified organic probiotic food supplement daily, and because of it I am incredibly regular. I have one or more BMs a day, and they happen effortlessly. This is a wonderful thing, as anyone who has ever been constipated would know. But it does have one small down-side. It has cut way back on my reading time.

Like most people, we keep a stash of reading material in the bathroom. My favorite is The Nation, which keeps me up to date on politics, environmental & social justice and the arts from my home country. The problem is that I never get to read it anymore, as I’m only ever in the bathroom for a few seconds. At the moment that has been just enough time to slowly make it through a book about potty training in one week which has taken me over a month to read (and it’s a very little book, as you can see).

While I am spending more time in the bathroom than usual at the moment, it is because we are in the midst of potty training (more on that soon!), not because I am sneaking in there for a bit of pleasure reading. So I’m having to find ways to fit more reading into my daily life, as it is one of my favorite activities… in my ideal life, I would have at least an hour a day for reading pleasure… and not just kids books!

I do love reading to my son, but I must admit, I’m getting tired of reading the same books over and over and over and over and over and over and over (if you have a toddler you know how it is…) which is why I am very grateful for the amazing moms over at my favorite blog at the moment, We Heart Books, which is full of wonderful suggestions for kids books.

Now I just have to decide if I’m ready to brave a trip to the library with a toddler in potty training?

Sunday, July 20, 2008

pink for boys and blue for girls?

All that talk about saving money on kids clothes by buying them second hand went out the window last week when I drove across town (at least I carpooled with a fellow Mom) to visit the bi-annual PureBaby Warehouse sale. This is a Melbourne institution that sees posh Mums from all over town converging on a seedy alley-way in Collingwood and jostling with their designer prams for first place in line to grab up organic cotton baby clothes at target prices. It's the last day today, so if you live in Melbourne, and have a baby, or are planning a baby, or know anyone having a baby (they make great gifts) I'd head over to 135 Cromwell St, Collingwood before 5pm today (Sunday).

Even if you don't live in Melbourne, you can be sure to look out for ebay being flooded with reasonably priced purebaby goodies over the next few weeks and months. I don't have any financial interest in purebaby (I wish I did!), I'm just an addict. Half my son's wardrobe is from purebaby, (although I'm struggling now since they only make clothes up to size 2, but they do make pjs in bigger sizes), sourced only from the warehouse sales (I would never pay retail), and it's one of the main sources of my gifts for friends who have babies (along with the miessence certified organic baby care range). I stock up once or twice a year, with an adequate supply of pink, blue and gender neutral colors so that I'm prepared for the multitude of babies being born amongst my cohort.

Did you know that it wasn't until the 1950s that pink became associated with girls, and blue for boys?
"There has been a great diversity of opinion on the subject, but the generally accepted rule is pink for the boy and blue for the girl. The reason is that pink being a more decided and stronger color is more suitable for the boy, while blue, which is more delicate and dainty, is prettier for the girl." [Ladies Home Journal, June, 1918]

This time I even bought a few (gender neutral) newborn outfits for the baby we're planning for next year (more on that soon!).

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

my son is outgrowing all his clothes!

As usual I've been far too busy to blog for ages, and one of the things that has been keeping me busy is keeping my two year old clothed and fed (not to mention amused... and don't even get me started on nap time!)... Normal parents would probably just pop over to the local department store and stock up on the next size up in pants, shirts, sweaters etc (it's winter here in Australia!), but since I have made a commitment (to myself, and now to cyberspace) not to buy new clothes for anyone unless they are made from organic cotton, bamboo, modal, etc.... it makes replenishing wardrobes a bit trickier!

Since it would be pretty expensive to buy all organic-cotton wardrobes, a lot of our clothes are second hand... this is better for many reasons, including a reduced ecological footprint (it's not just about carbon!), a reduced price-tag (which means I can afford new organic clothes), and the main reason motivating my stance: safety. New clothes, especially those made in China (which is most of them these days) are sprayed with horrible chemicals, such as flame-retardants, fumigants, etc. This is on top of whatever chemical residues are already on the fabrics, such as pesticides, fertilizers, dies, and plastics (all those licensed cartoon characters on kids clothing are actually quiet toxic).

So yesterday I went to our local "opp shop" (short for Opportunity Shop, ie second hand store run by a charitable organization) and got 16 items for $69... now this is actually pretty expensive as far as opp shops go, but it was called the "Posh Opp Shop", and we got very nice stuff for my son (some of which won't fit him for a few years, but that will save me some trouble down the track), much of which were expensive brand name clothes in great condition. I still had to be careful to avoid shirts with toxic decorations (ie no Bob, Thomas, Dora, or Pooh), not just for environmental reasons, and because I don't like my child being free advertising for multi-national media conglomerates.

Another good thing about buying from shops run by the Salvation Army and other charities is that they are usually run by volunteers, and any profits are given to charity. I still feel a bit bad about buying second hand clothes though, because it means we're benefiting from the fact that some other family has been exposed to the nasty residues as they slowly get washed off and absorbed into the skin of young children, but hopefully as more people become aware of the dangers lurking in those sweet flannel pjs (I'm not just scare-mongering here, this is really really an issue of concern, if you don't believe me, google it), there will be fewer toxic clothes on the market.

I also make use of ebay, for second-hand and organic clothes, and I try to support local small-businesses that use sustainable fabrics to make fair-trade products. Yesterday we also received a big package from one of my favorite Australian companies, Blessed Earth, that included toddler pants, and for me: organic socks, tights, underwear, bra, towels and a pillow cover (it was all on sale!).

Now we're all set for clothes for the winter, and I'm feeling better about our wardrobe's footprint... my next challenge is naptime... I can't get the organic toddler down for a nap without driving him around the block for 20 minutes (the stroller works too, but as it's winter it's pretty cold and rainy most days)... so, as my husband says, our naptime has a huge carbon footprint! Any suggestions????

Monday, May 19, 2008

I'm so impossibly busy, I just have to blog!

Do you know that feeling? When you have so many things to do that no one thing takes precedence over the other and you become paralyzed and end up doing something else altogether that isn't even on your LIST OF URGENT THINGS TO DO!

That's where I'm at. We're heading overseas (to Hawaii!!!) in four days, and before we go I have to write two 2-hour Contract Law Lectures, organize everything for my organic business stall at the Going Green Expo in Melbourne June 5-8, clean the house (actually we've outsourced that to the fabulous folks at EASLI), and pack a number of items to keep the toddler entertained and organically fed on the way too long plane trip.

As far as entertainment goes, I've been collecting books that are small and light, but will keep him amused for a long time... Katie from We Heart Books (a fabulous blog about kids books) has been a great source of ideas for what books to bring. I've also bought some new Charlie & Lola books, including one filled with stickers, which will definitely provide hours (or at least half an hour) of amusement, but I'm a bit worried about the toxicological effects of being covered in stickers (him and me). Has anyone done any research into this?? If so, please leave a comment!

As for food, I'm sure Qantas hasn't added an Organic meal into their selection of special meals, at least not in economy. I have a hard enough time arranging a meal that is Gluten AND Dairy-free (some airlines will do it, others just laugh at you). For me I think I will just stock up on yummy, organic "health" bars with lots of chocolate in them to keep me going, but I can't give that to the BABY!

One of our staple "convenience" foods is banana muffins, which are not so convenient, as I have to bake them from scratch, but it's a great recipe for people with multiple allergies:

1 cup organic brown rice flour
1/2 cup tapioca flower
1/2 cup amaranth or quinoa flour (high protein, gluten-free south american grains)
3/4 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp cream of tartar
1/4 tsp sea salt
mix these dry ingredients and then separately mix:
4 ripe mashed organic bananas
1/3 cup of oil (I use rice bran oil, but olive oil works too)
1/4 cup honey (I use pear juice concentrate)
Add all ingredients together and add some liquid if necessary (I use rice milk or juice).

Bake for 15-20 min in a moderate oven (160C or 320F). Makes 12 yummy muffins. They go stale pretty quickly, so any that I'm not eating right away I freeze for later. I'm going to make a double batch right now... to get us through this week and the trip to Hawaii!

I'll also need to make sure we all consume lots of antioxidants to counteract the high radiation levels associated with air travel.

Personally, I have a drink made with Berry Radical most days, which is a yummy organic chocolate, berry concoction, that gives me lots of energy and a full day's worth of antioxidants.

But I can't give that to the BABY because he is very sensitive to salicylates, a naturally occurring chemical found in many fruits and vegetables, especially berries. More on that later...

Monday, April 14, 2008

quicky on organic cotton, safe bath products and preconception detox

ok, so the results of my poll were a three-way tie, so I'll do a quicky on all three... more to come when I have time (when will that be???).

Organic Cotton: good for you, good for the environment, good for the workers in the cotton fields... it's softer... what more do you need to know???? Baby clothes, blankets, towels, wash cloths, bedding, stuffed animals, furniture, tampons, you name it, you can find an organic cotton version of it... for example, I just searched for organic cotton on Amazon and found everything from organic cotton broccoli (seriously, I've attached a picture in case you don't believe me), to organic cotton gloves.

Regarding safe bath products for baby... the safest product is water, and most babies don't need anything else for the first year... even then they really don't need much. If you absolutely must use a shampoo or bubble bath, then I recommend miessence desert flower shampoo and sunflower body wash (doubles as a bubble bath). Yes, I sell them, and I hate recommending things I sell, lest you think I am being biased, but I really, honestly, cannot think of anything else to recommend, that I would be willing to use on my son (besides just plain water).

Finally, and I am running out of steam here... pre-conception detox is a vital way to ensure that your health (and your partner's health) is in optimal condition to conceive, and that you give your baby the best start in life. It involves changing your diet (cutting out sugar, caffeine, alcohol, dairy, wheat etc) cleaning out your home environment (cleaning products, personal care products etc) and removing sources of stress and anxiety in your life. A fantastic book on this is called Natural Way to Better Babies it's also published as "Healthy Parents, Better Babies". A great starting point. More on this later, I promise!

Saturday, April 12, 2008

tell me what to blog about!

check out my poll... at the moment it's a three-way tie, so please, please, please vote for something, as I'm far too busy to write about all three topics (they're all pretty massive to begin with...)

Friday, April 11, 2008

cute site for cloth diapers

I don't have time for a proper post on this subject, but I just came across a great website for people looking at cloth diapers. It's called Green Way Baby Wear, and the owner makes really gorgeous looking cloth diapers and diaper covers from wool and bamboo... if I weren't about to start toilet training with my toddler I would get some.

I promise another time, when I have more time, I will explain about what diapers/nappies I use, which ones I have tried, and why I mainly use (shock, horror) "disposable" diapers.... before you become too outraged, please note that I live in Australia, where there is a severe, ongoing drought, and the water used to wash cloth diapers is very precious... but more on that soon, I promise :-)

Saturday, April 05, 2008

Affording organic veggies…

I have written recently about ways to save money on organic meat and on ways of convincing toddlers to eat organic fish, but I haven’t been able to think of many tips on affording organic veggies (which can be much more expensive than their conventional counterparts, although not always). Since there has been some demand for this topic, I have been wracking my brain on the subject… and this is what I have come up with…

Grow Your Own Organic Veggies!

When I was pregnant I was lucky enough to be working within walking distance of the Queen Victoria Market in Melbourne. I also had a bit of time on my hands (life before baby) and I’m a bit of a nerd, so I made a spreadsheet of the three different organic stalls at the market, what produce I regularly bought, and what their usual prices were (per kilo). I would often end up shopping from two or more different stalls to get everything I needed, but I got the best prices on my organic produce. It would take my whole lunch hour to do my shopping, which I then had to lug back to my office, store in the staff kitchen fridge, and then take home on the train… so it wasn’t exactly convenient, but it was good for the environment, good for my health, and more affordable than buying them all from an organic shop near my house.

Post-baby I have neither the time nor the inclination for making and using spreadsheets, and shopping in three different places at once… so I’m willing to pay a little more for one-stop-organic shopping. But what I am realizing more and more is that the cheapest, freshest, and most convenient organic produce comes from your own backyard (or front yard, porch, balcony, windowsill etc).

At the Sustainable Living Festival (thanks Mom for reminding me to go!) in February I was lucky enough to come across the kind souls at Permablitz, a Permaculture group, which teaches Intro to Permaculture Courses here in Melbourne. I am so glad that I connected with them, and was able to take their 2-day course this weekend at the Port Phillip EcoCentre in the St Kilda Botanic Gardens. It was a wonderful group of people (students and teachers) all passionate about growing their own food with whatever means they have available. This ranged from a country property to growing things mostly in pots in a small courtyard (me). I’m so excited about Permaculture (short for permanent (ie sustainable) agriculture) and growing my own organic food (maybe even chickens!!!) that I might have to start another blog just to talk about that!

In the meantime, if you are looking for a way to make organic food more affordable, don’t shy away from trying your (green) hand at growing your own… I’ll let you know how I go ☺

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Fun with Fishy Finger Food!

My 2 year old son LOVES the British children's books and dvds "Charlie & Lola". They really are adorable, and I don't mind reading and watching them over and over and over and over... One of the things I like about Charlie & Lola is that they live in a modest apartment, not a McMansion, and they spend lots of time outdoors, in their local park, going to the library, etc... and, unlike my son, they never watch tv!

One of the best things about Charlie & Lola is the first episode, from Charlie and Lola, Vol. 1, where Charlie (Lola's older brother) convinces Lola to eat all of the foods that she doesn't like, such as carrots (orange twiglets from Jupiter), peas (green drops from Greenland), mashed potato (cloud fluff from the top of Mt Fuji) etc. My son will therefore now eat all of these foods happily, because Lola eats them.

Most importantly, Charlie gets Lola to eat fish fingers (ocean nibbles for mermaids). I was lucky for a while because my son would eat fresh and canned fish (the bones are a great source of calcium), but more recently he has stopped eating all fish (he still eats the bones, which are a nice crunchy treat and especially good for a kid that has a dairy-free diet). Since becoming obsessed with Charlie & Lola he has been asking for fish fingers. This is a bit of a problem, since he is also gluten-free, and I haven't, as yet, found gluten-free fish fingers, and especially not organic, sustainably harvested, mercury-free (etc...) fish fingers.... at least not in Australia... maybe in America!

So as with most things, I had to make them from scratch... my first attempt was remarkably successful... I bought some white fish from the supermarket, sliced it into "fingers", crumbed it with a mixture of organic rice flour and some rice bread crumbs, and fried it lightly in rice bran oil until golden brown. They were delicious! My son loved them, and even ate them re-heated for lunch the next day!

Flush with my initial success, I tried again a few days later, but this time I felt bad about having chosen a cheap, farmed in Thailand fish, so I picked a more expensive, wild-caught in Australia, Blue Grenadier. Sadly it didn't hold its form as well as the farmed fish, and it really was more like "ocean nibbles" than fish fingers.

I ended up with a lot of crumbly fish left, so the next night I tried making it into fish patties... first time lucky with these as well, and they passed the "lunch the next day" test too... I made them by mixing the cooked fish with some leftover organic potato and leek soup, some sea salt and organic rice flour (to bind it together). I also lightly fried them in rice bran oil until golden brown...

Again the second time was not as successful... I got cocky from my previous successes and thought I could be clever and slip some brussels sprouts into the fish patties... no such luck! He picked up on it straight away... "No like it". He ended up eating a fair amount, but painstakingly picked out all the green bits...

My next project is to make them really organic. There is some fantastic organic fish available in Australia from Soul Fish. Sadly it is not widely available, and I have to head to the Prahran Markets to get it, frozen, and then transport it quickly home before it thaws, as it comes in packs of 5 filets.

I know there is a lot more organic fish available in North America, and hopefully it will catch on here... I'll let you know how I go with the organic, gluten-free, mercury-free, sustainable fish fingers!

Sunday, March 30, 2008

how things have changed (for the better)

When I was pregnant with my son almost three years ago I had to search far and wide to find natural and organic products for him to wear, be bundled in, play with, eat and drink out of etc... now I get an email from Amazon today sending me a link to pages and pages of Organic Baby Products...

It's a great time to be having an organic baby! Lately I have been feeling a bit guilty about using my first child (and only child for the moment) as a bit of a guinea pig... as much research as I did the first time around, doing a full detox before conceiving, eating mostly organic food, using hypnobirthing techniques in a midwife-run birthing centre, breastfeeding him for two years, dressing him in organic cotton, etc etc etc... there are so many more things that I would do differently if I could...

I would...
- have less (or possible zero) ultrasounds (sonograms). I had three the first time... one at 10 weeks, 12 weeks and 20 weeks.
- delay immunizations longer (and maybe not get all of them?).
- not eat nuts while pregnant or breastfeeding (I ate a lot of hazelnuts and now my son is allergic to them, even though he's never eaten them!).
- use safer bottles/sippy cups.
- have a better bed for co-sleeping.
- have my soil testing before baby starts eating it!
- travel less (especially less radiation-filled airplane flights).

You get the picture... I will blog more on all of these topic later (hopefully sooner), but in the meantime if you have any comments, suggestions, questions, etc on any of the issues I've mentioned (or anything else) please feel free to leave a comment!

Thursday, March 27, 2008

I don't shower every day, and I wash my hair even less!

I can't remember the last time I had a shower... maybe it was Monday (today is Thursday). I am definitely due for one, and I'm going to have one shortly, but I doubt if I'll wash my hair... since I have discovered the best thing for my hair is something that has been sitting in my shower for years... Dr Bronner's Baby Mild certified organic liquid soap. I never would have thought to wash my hair with it, and have been busy washing my hair with the organic shampoo that I sell on my site (which is great, but costs $20/bottle), until my mom recently mentioned that she had started using dr bronners on her hair when she ran out of shampoo, and found that it worked better than shampoo, and she didn't need conditioner. Since hearing that I've tried it myself, and I've found that not only does it work better than shampoo, but I can wash my hair even less frequently, which is great, because I have lots of better ways to spend my time than washing my hair!

While I do love having a nice long, hot shower, there are a number of environmental reasons why this is not good, especially since I live in Australia, where we are in the middle of a drought, so I don't like wasting water. I find that the longer I have been using natural, organic personal care products, the less I have to shower. I think that the build-up of petrochemicals and other nasties in the lotions and potions I was using was part of what made me feel "dirty" every day. Now that I use minimal products (all organic) I feel cleaner longer. That being said, it really is time to take a shower!

Saturday, March 15, 2008

affording organic meat

In most cases organic food is more expensive than its conventional counterparts, but there are a few tricks you can use to maximize what you get for your organic dollar. One of the most expensive foods to buy organic is also one of the most important... meat. If you are vegetarian or vegan, then you'll have to wait for my organic veggies tip... coming soon.

I've noticed recently that the same organic producers sell their products under their own label, as well as under supermarket labels... I don't know if this happens in other countries, but it happens in Australia, where I live at the moment.

For example, the same organic chicken farm sells under its own name, as well as through Safeway, but the Safeway branded chicken is at least $2/kilo cheaper. This also happens for other organic products, not just meat. You can tell by looking at the producer number on the organic certification logo.

Another way to save on organic meat is to buy it when it is on sale and freeze it. Buy as much as you can afford to at the time, up to about 3 months supply (if you have enough room in your freezer) any more than that and it might start to go funny before you eat it.

You can also look for meat that is a couple of days before its due date and has been heavily discounted... but make sure that it still looks and smells fresh, and cook/eat/ freeze it straight away.

My final tip for getting the most out of your organic meat dollar is to buy a whole organic chicken and use every last bit of it...
I roast mine in the oven and then strip all the meat off to use in salads, casseroles, risottos, soups etc. Then I boil the carcass with a pinch of salt, and some veggies and herbs (if I can be bothered, just salt will do) and make a delicious homemade organic chicken stock, which I use to make soups, risottos, and drink plain as a broth.

I also use the stock for making really yummy rice (with stock instead of water) or mashed potatoes.

If my toddler is going through an anti-vegetable phase then he will usually eat a creamy soup made by cooking veggies in chicken stock and then blending it. A cooked potato or some rice added before blending will make the soup nice and creamy without adding dairy products.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

my old mantra - buy less, spend more

Thanks to my Mom for forwarding an article in The Age (my local paper, which she reads online from the other side of the world) titled "A new mantra - buy less, spend more". This is actually my old mantra... my new mantra is don't buy; borrow, freecycle, buy second hand, buy local, buy organic, etc.

The article talks about how some people are buying less things, but spending more money on experiences and quality items (how I used to be before I quit my job) and others are buying as little as possible, basically just food, toiletries and medicines... this is the direction I'm heading in... I am only buying new clothes for me and my family if they are made from organic cotton or bamboo, and mostly buying second hand clothes and using hand-me-downs. I do spend a lot of money on organic food and organic personal care and health products, but I figure all the money I save on not buying other things helps me to afford more organic things that are actually going into and on my body and my family's bodies. This also means that we are healthier and don't have to spend money on medicine! I'm still spending money supporting and enjoying the arts, and helping charities, and on things like education, travel, and books, but I'm traveling less and using the library more!

More on all this soon...

Thursday, February 28, 2008

reading and playing with children is soooo important!

Thanks for the beautiful Viraja for forwarding this link to a National Public Radio story about the importance of old-fashioned playtime with our kids, including imaginative play, active play, and reading aloud together. This is something I've been reading lots about lately, so will post more soon.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

I want to give birth again!

We had friends over for dinner on the weekend, one of whom is pregnant, and I am jealous! I was very excited to hear that she is going to be learning the calmbirth techniques (also known as Hypnobirthing). We did this when our son was born and it was the best thing I've ever done! I'm so thankful that my wonderful osteopath harassed me until I called the amazing Sue (our hypnobirthing instructor) and booked into private classes with her. I will write more on my experience with hypnobirthing soon... just wanted to say that if anyone in Melbourne is interested let me know and I can send you Sue's details.

Friday, February 22, 2008

riding the crimson wave...

Wow... after posting yesterday I got my daily email from Ideal Bite, and it was about alternative menstruation products, including The Keeper!

I have never come across a topic that inspired so many comments in such a short time... 98 and counting in less than 24 hours.

It's so wonderful to feel part of a community of women who care so much about their own health and the environment. I had no idea so many women and girls were using the menstrual cups ... obviously it's something we don't like talking about... but that should change. It's really not nearly as disgusting as changing a poo-ey diaper... and I talk about that all the time!

I've also found some great online forums and blogs talking about which cups to choose and how to use them.

Some of the women on Ideal Bite talked about having shorter periods and less cramping since using cups... now there is something to get excited about!

Thursday, February 21, 2008

No more organic tampons?

While I love my organic feminine products from natracare, I still feel bad about the environmental impact (and cost) of buying and using tampons and other sanitary products every month (except for the blissful months of pregnancy and breastfeeding when I didn't get my period!!!).

A couple of years ago I read a great book by Linda Cockburn called Living the Good Life. I will write more on this fantastic book later, but one thing (among many) that I was inspired to do after reading the book was to look for a product called The Keeper. It's a natural rubber (or silicone for women with latex allergies) cup that is used instead of a tampon. it is similar to a diaphragm in its use, and lasts about 10 years. it's not cheap to buy, but is very cost effective (pays for itself in less than a year if you are buying organic tampons).

So I was very excited to come across a woman from Moon Pads in Tasmania selling The Keeper at the Sustainable Living Festival in Melbourne last weekend!

I'm trying it out now (got my period the next day!), so I'll let you know how I go...

I also bought an organic cotton reusable pad from a lovely Melbourne-based woman who owns Rad-Pads. More on that later!

To find out more about why you should switch to organic tampons/pads, etc, check out this info from natracare.

For more info on why you might want to switch to reusable menstrual products read this from Moon Pads.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

My organic baby is no longer a baby... that's what happens when you don't post for over a year!

Wow, I thought it had only been a few months since I last posted, but it has been over a year... how time flies! My beautiful organic baby is now a beautiful organic boy. As much as I still call him my baby (and probably always will), the signs are mounting daily that he is growing up. He did a poo in the potty yesterday and today (with the help of a little bribery... still not sure how I feel about that, will keep you posted). And, when I was at the Sustainable Living Festival in Melbourne this morning, there was a distinct lack of organic "baby" clothes that would fit him...

This is something I was discussing with the owner of a company called Sahara Bloom that makes beautiful bamboo clothes, including baby clothes... so soft and gorgeous it made me want to have another baby, but instead I settled for a tank top and some socks for me. Anyway, I was saying that the market is being flooded with eco-friendly, organic/hemp/bamboo etc clothes and accessories for babies, but the supply really dries up as soon as you hit size 2 or 3. It's funny how we think babies need the purest, most non-toxic products available, but when it comes to ourselves, or older children, somehow the ordinary, synthetic chemical-laden options become ok again? I don't think so! As I become ever-more aware/concerned about synthetic chemicals in our everyday lives, I find it harder to buy "normal" products for myself or my family. Sometimes this is liberating, because a lack of choice can make life much easier... I think having too many options to choose from can be paralyzing/exhausting... but trying to find safe, natural, durable, affordable alternatives can also be paralyzing and exhausting, especially when the products you are looking for don't exist, or are hard to find, or require doing breathtaking amounts of research to ensure that you are doing the right thing for your family and the planet!

That's why I'm hoping to share some of my thoughts/research on conscious consumption (and avoiding consumption), especially when it comes to babies and children!