Transitioning Baby to Solids

When should I start my baby on solids? What should he eat? This is a common topic among mothers, especially if one is new to the Traditional Foods way of eating.

I heartily agree with most everything in the Nourishing a Growing Baby article from the Weston A. Price Foundation; with the caveat that all these foods should be started when the baby is almost 1 year of age and not at 4 months. If you have not read this article and have asked this question, it truly is a MUST read.

Pay close attention to the end of this quote (from the Nourishing a Growing Baby article):

“Meats will help ensure adequate intake of iron, zinc, and protein with the decrease in breast milk and formula.” (emphasis added)

This article assumes that a mother is DECREASING in nursing or bottle feeding. Why in the world would I want to start preparing all these time consuming foods for a baby that I can still breast-feed 24/7? If for some reason, one is unable to continue breast-feeding or is not able to, then I can understand the need for starting earlier. Otherwise, if the mother’s diet contains all these nutrient-dense foods, I strongly believe waiting until baby’s first birthday before even beginning the process towards solids.

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photo credit

Even when a baby starts to eat solids, it is not guaranteed that the baby will like egg yolks, liver, or what have you. This is where nursing comes in all the more handy. I can rest assured knowing that baby is getting all the nutrients he needs because of my diet and not necessarily from his.

As baby grows and is nursing less in the 1-2 year age range, or if the baby is not nursing at all anymore, I find it most useful to get them used to smoothies. I can put homemade yogurt in there, raw goat or cow milk, a little bit of sucanat, maple syrup (honey when over 2), and any superfoods I want to ensure he is getting all he needs. I like to add 1/8 tsp of moringa once or twice a week. I also like to get the growing tot used to eating a teaspoon of fermented cod liver oil/butter oil blend off a spoon.

When babe is between 1-2 years of age, I like to make sourdough crackers with lots of butter and pink salt for a quick snack if need be on the go. Who needs goldfish when you can give your child a traditional, nutrient dense snack that takes hardly any time at all to make? Here’s the recipe I have come to love:

Mix 1 cup spelt flour, 1 cup starter, 1/4 cup softened coconut oil, tallow, or butter. Stir it all together and let sit overnight. Roll them out, brush with oil, sprinkle pink salt on top.  Bake at 350 until browned about 20-25 minutes.

This little person has a fresh start on life, why not start him out right? Loving real, nutrient dense, traditional foods.

Sprouted Sourdough Bread

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As I was healing my body from hypoglycemia, I avoided any unsprouted grains. However, buying sprouted bread at the store was no cheap endeavor. So, I began searching for recipes to make my own sprouted bread at home. It was a bit of a more lengthy process than just making bread from flour, but it was so worth the health benefits. Plus, after learning about all the issues with gluten, I didn’t want any extra in my sprouted bread! So we lived on sprouted bread for quite some time while with God’s help, I healed my pancreas through a real foods diet.

After healing that area, I was introduced to the amazing, health-filled world of sourdough. I could not go back to yeasted breads now. Too many wonderful, sustainable results happen with a living, active culture. I have been loving my sourdough bread, which is a daily staple around our home. But every once in a while, it’s nice to have some variety. I had a hankering for some sprouted bread again recently (well actually, my youngest daughter put the thought in my head when she asked why we never had any sprouted, not sour bread any more?), but instead of using yeast, I thought I would try the sourdough starter as my “yeast”. As you can see in the above photo, it did rise some, but not quite as high as it would if there were some gluten in there. Since that is not going to happen, I am content with a slightly denser loaf, packed with uncompromising nutritional value. I expected it to bear a hint of tangy flavor, but to my surprise, there was none. With that in mind, I might add more starter next time and see if it helps improve the rise a little, without adding much tang.  I will update if this is the case. Without further delay…

Sprouted Sourdough Bread

makes 2 loaves

Note: You will need to sprout half of a gallon sized bucket of spelt berries – half of them you will use wet, the other half will need to be dried and milled.  For my process of sprouting, see end of recipe.

Ingredients:

  • 4 cups sprouted, wet berries (I used spelt)
  • 2 cups hot water, filtered
  • 4 tsp Real Salt, or other non-refined salt
  • 3 cups sprouted spelt flour
  • 1/2 cup active sourdough starter

Method:

  1. Place wet berries and water in food processor or Blendtec type blender. Pulverize until in a smooth, dough-like consistency (or your blender starts dancing around the counter).
  2. Pour above dough into a mixer along with the rest of the ingredients. Mix on medium until dough is formed and is elastic. If too sticky, add more flour, if too dry, add more starter or water.
  3. Divide into 2 equal balls, round out to loaves and place in well-greased and floured bread pans (I use palm shortening to grease and brown rice flour to dust).
  4. Allow to rise on the counter until almost to the top of the pan (remember it does not rise much) -about 4-5 hours.
  5. Bake in a preheated oven at 350 for between 40-50 minutes.
  6. Allow to cool completely before slicing, if you can stand it. It locks in the flavor nicely.

Though I have not seen any studies on the gluten level of sprouted grains, I sense that it is low to non-existent. If there were more gluten, the dough would rise, for one. But for another, I would react to it. Since neither is happening around here, I am pretty happy with my sprouted grains as a nourishing option.

*Side note on sprouting/My Method:

  1. Two nights in advance, I soak the spelt berries in a plastic gallon bucket.
  2. Next morning, I drain off the water (could be recycled into rejuvalac or for chickens). I place the berries in 2 strainers, rinse a bit, and cover with towel (to keep pests away, or nosy kids).
  3. That evening, I usually see some tails, so I place half of the berries in baking sheets and put in the oven on the lowest temp (170) for the night (12-18 hours). The other half goes into a bag and into the fridge.
  4. The next morning, if the berries are completely dry, I mill them. I now have flour, and wet berries ready to go for the bread. Extra berries can be used to make sprouted pancakes or muffins (with sourdough starter, no less- stay tuned for the recipes!

Find more Real Food recipes at Kelly The Kitchen Kop’s Real Food Wednesdays.

Summer Schedule for Education and Beyond

Warmer weather, longer days, colors blooming everywhere – it’s officially summer here. As we have wrapped up our books for the past school year, it is time to get on with a new schedule. We educate year round. I mean, why not? Life is constantly happening, why would we stop learning? I also am not a fan of the brain fog that comes at the beginning of the school year or the fight against having to sit and do some lessons after several months of play time. I learned that the first year we homeschooled. Now, we simply take off time as we need to throughout the year: for outings, field trips, road trips, visits, and holidays. During the warmer months, we put up some of our subjects on a former level – like Latin, Poetry memorization, formal history/geography lessons, and composition/formal writing.

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I also allow for more child-led schooling during the summer. We frequent the library with a list for each of the children. I ask them to get at least one book in each topic: poetry, literature, history, biography, hobby/skill, and science. Those are the books they read during out quiet reading time. For the smaller ones who are still learning to read, I am loving the Playaways from the library, where each can listen to a classic children’s book on headphones. They’re enjoying Pooh, Peter Rabbit, Wind in the Willows, CS Lewis, and more. So wonderful if you don’t have the money to invest in books on CD; or if you have many children on different reading/learning levels and can’t read to everyone all the time. Definitely into making life more manageable.

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I post the schedule though, not as something that everyone should be doing, but merely because it always helped and encouraged me to see how others structured their days when they had a lot to do, and many hands to keep busy.  I also don’t really include a lot of actual times, because for us it’s more of an order of events than of a time schedule. Also helps me not watch the clock or ever feel like we’re “behind”. Life happens and the schedule is made to work for us, not the other way around.

Summer Schedule

6:30-9:30             Morning chores, Early school work (consisting of Math, Language                      Lessons, and Copywork)

9:30-12                Project of the week (skill or new hobby, research time) and free time

12-1                     Lunch and afternoon chores

1-3                       Quiet Time – required reading, audiobooks, art, crafting

3-4                       Free Time

4-5                       Help a buddy (the older ones get a younger buddy and supervise them so I can make dinner with my helper)

Evening               Dinner, clean up

Free Time

Evening Chores (2 children to a room for clean up)

Baths and Story Time

8:30-9:30             Bed – we do staggered bed times according to age

On Fridays, the children are starting up a presentation of the projects or subjects they learned about that week. Last week was our first viewing, still some tweaking to do, but it really was fun. Caleb created a nature house out of objects he found outside. He also put on a puppet show, which ran a little long, but he can work on it. His set and puppets were really neat though, and the little ones love puppet shows. Isaiah had some lego creations, as well as a drawing of the 9/11 attacks and a short description of why we should remember that day. Micaiah had a slide show presentation of pictures she’s been taking and editing. Nathaniel and Hannah had cardboard box buildings and pictures. Mikey just talked about someone else’s bottle rocket. Lastly Ian told us about his drawings. I was pleasantly surprised, and also made notes on how we could make the evening run smoother.

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I also want to get back on track with daily devotions in the morning. To help spread the responsibility and thus ownership of it, I have assigned a day to each of the three oldest to lead a different day. Mornings are tough for me, but I really hope this works 🙂 It usually takes a couple of weeks for a new schedule to stick or work without constant supervision. Every day is a new day to start again!

What about you? How are you enjoying your summer?

(photo credits to my daughter, Micaiah)

Dark Chocolate Hazelnut Cookies – GF

It is such a beautiful day outside. The children are outdoors enjoying the spring sunshine. Though our schedule declares it to be reading time, I think the gorgeous God display in the backyard trumps. So, I went about making a newer version of our favorite gluten free cookie.

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photo credit

Dark Chocolate Hazelnut Cookies – GF

Makes 3 big batches – whatever that is 🙂

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup organic butter
  • 1/2 cup coconut oil
  • 1 tsp aluminum free baking soda
  • 1 tsp Real Salt
  • 1 Tb vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 Tb stevia extract (or few pinches of powder, or 1 tsp of green powdered herb)
  • 4 pastured eggs
  • 2 cups sucanat
  • 3 cups sprouted rice flour (I grind the sprouted rice from Azure in my Blendtec)
  • 3 cups almond flour (also from Azure)
  • 1-2 cups hazelnuts, preferably roasted or soaked/dried
  • 1 cup dark chocolate chips

Method:

  1. Add each ingredient in the order listed, one at time to the mixer.
  2. Leaving the mixer on low, continue blending each item one at time.
  3. Slowly add the nuts and chocolate chips last.
  4. Bake in a preheated oven at 375 for about 10-12 minutes.

Best enjoyed outside with a cold glass of Real, Fresh milk. Have a lovely day!

How to Lose Weight with a Real Food Lifestyle

The baby fat from this last pregnancy (#8) has been the hardest to lose! I do understand why. Many different organs and body systems have to be working correctly in order for the body to properly metabolize stored fat (on its own as designed, without extra metabolism boosters and dietary fads). The body naturally was created to desire to maintain a comfortable body weight – one just right for your body type. Not too skinny, not too heavy, just right. In order to obtain this, certain body systems have to be detoxed and working efficiently, or no matter the diet or exercise has little impact, so it seems.  Here’s the check list of important organs/systems to have in order for optimal weight loss:

  • Thyroid/Hypothalamus/Pituitary
  • Pancreas
  • Liver/Gallbladder
  • Colon
  • Lymphatic
  1. DO A MAJOR DETOX: A real simple way to make sure everything is working right would be doing an overall detox/cleansing program. Look for quality companies, no fillers, just herbs and foods. I like Garden of Life products, Nature’s Sunshine, Dr. Christopher or Dr. Schultze and the like. Check out the notes from our detox workshop and get on a good program.
  2. Check for specific problem areas:
  • Do you have a low thyroid? If so, get some sea vegetables to support it (Pure Herbs TW, for example).
  • Do you have low or high blood sugar issues? Get lots of protein, stay away from all sugar sources, and get a good pancreatic support (Nature’s Sunshine Pro-Pancreas, for example). 
  • Do you have Leaky Gut? Get on the GAPS diet.
  • Do you have colitis or other colon issues? Do similar GAPS diet, but also take a colon support (Dr. Christopher, or Chinese Medicinal Herbal Combinations – see a local acupuncturist).
  • Congested Liver or Reoccurring Gallstones? Get a good liver support (Nature’s Sunshine has several, like this one. I am sure there are many others. Or Gallbladder Formula). Getting that liver and gallbladder cleaned out will make a huge impact. Drinking 5-10 drops of lemon essential oil by Young Living or other reputable sources in water each day will also support and cleanse.
  • Over-worked lymphatic? Do some skin brushing, rebounding, lemongrass essential oil on the bottom of the feet twice a day, drinking green drinks (greens blended in the blender with water – up to a quart a day). Barley grass and other grass powders are also very helpful.

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3. Stick with your Real Foods Lifestyle with these alterations:

  • Drink/eat only fermented fresh dairy – drinking raw milk has sugars we are trying to avoid at this time (think yogurt, kefir, soured cream)
  • Eat only sourdough or sprouted bread minimally (1-2 slices a day).
  • Eat 1 meal with properly prepared grains (like brown rice, soaked barley, or others).
  • Avoid starchy vegetables that would add to the sugar count (like potatoes).
  • NO refined Sugar at all – no sucanat, nada. Healthy sugar is fine when you get to your desired weight. For now, use Stevia – NuNaturals, without any flavorings or raw honey (if you don’t have high blood sugar issues).
  • Eat all the healthy fats, non-starchy vegetables, properly prepared nuts/seeds, fermented, organic, preferably raw and pastured dairy and pastured, organic meats and eggs that you would like!

4. Moderate exercise: Try to get in some stretching, walking, playing with your kids, going on nature walks, doing some weight lifting with your older kids… you get the picture. Stay active. Use your rebounder for 5-10 minutes a day. It’s not about working out for hours.This is a life-style, not a diet. So, the exercise should be something you can do in real life, with all the kids, and in budget and within time restraints.

5. Take some Moringa leaf or other superfood multi-vitamin to be sure you’re filling in all the gaps, especially if you have one or more compromised systems you’re working on strengthening.

6. Keep eating your fermented veggies – these will act not only as an amazing food enzyme, but a probiotic and powerhouse of nutrients. Shoot for 1-2 Tablespoons each meal.

7. Be prayerful! Keep a thankful journal and stay connected to the Ultimate Healer for wisdom and guidance.

That’s it! Losing weight shouldn’t be so difficult. Clean up and avoid simple sugars. If you’re already on a Real Foods diet, this should be an easy move for you. If you’re still transitioning over to a Real Foods diet, keep at it! Learn all you can. Make those baby steps, or go major! Whatever is going to work for you.

**If you are nursing or pregnant, you cannot use the detox herbs. If you’re nursing or pregnant and want to clean up minimally, I recommend Detox + from Bulk Herb Store – something with just activated charcoal or bentonite clay in it. These will absorb toxins without circulating them to the baby. Other than that, do NOT CUT CALORIES. You can do the above Real Foods diet with the alterations, but never go hungry. Remember you have a little one counting on you! Eat extra helpings of soup, salad, yogurt, lots of healthy fats, etc.

God be with you as you go on your journey to complete health! Remember that weight loss is the added benefit of a healthy lifestyle and optimally functioning organs. Watch for healthy, nourishing sugar free dessert recipes. I started on this a week ago, so I will be posting recipes, like chocolate bars 😉

Weekly Menu/Planning

Sometimes it’s helpful to see how others are planning their menus and dinners. I know it inspires me to try something new, or maybe tweak my daily food plans to see what others are cooking. Hope this is useful:

Sunday (evening prep work)

  • start sourdough bread and put in fridge

Monday

Day to do’s

Dinner: Ratatouille (with veggies and our own eggs – will post recipe soon!), Fresh Baked Bread, Salad and Kombucha

Prep: Soak beans, Start sourdough bread and put in fridge, freshen sourdough

Tuesday:

Day to do’s

  • Bake bread
  • Start tortillas
  • Simmer beans all day in crock

Dinner: Bean Tortillas, Salad, Kombucha

Prep: none

Wednesday:

Day to do’s

  • Bake gluten free cookies
  • Put chicken and sweet potatoes in dutch oven

Dinner: Baked Chicken, Homemade Gravy, Mashed Sweet Potatoes, Salad, Kombucha

Prep: none

Thursday:

Day to do’s

  • Bake gluten free muffins
  • Freshen sourdough
  • Check kombucha/bottle if ready/Make fresh batch (I do 4 gallons to tide us over for a week)

Dinner: Bean and Quinoa Bowls (will post recipe – they’re like tacos without the shells, and using quinoa instead of rice)

Prep: start pizza sourdough and put in fridge

Friday:

Day to do’s

  • Freshen spelt sourdough for pancakes
  • Bake pizza crusts, and use the rest of dough for bread

Dinner: Veggie Pizza, Chicken Sweet Sauce Pizza, Salad, and Kombucha

Prep: Start pasta sourdough and put in fridge, thaw squash for pasta

Saturday:

Day to do’s

  • Roll out pasta and let it dry

Dinner: Tomato Cream Fettuccine (recipe to come), Salad, Garlicky Green Beans, Kombucha

Prep: None

Sunday:

Day to do’s

  • put lamb bones in crockpot with veggies for dinner

Early Dinner: Lamb Stew, Salad, Kombucha

 

For breakfasts we usually do the same things, just rotating what it is based on how we feel that day. Fare usually includes smoothies, probiotic chocolate milks, leftover pancakes, eggs, toast, soaked oatmeal, breakfast cake, and fresh fruit.

For lunch it’s leftovers, veggie sandwiches, sprouted corn cheese quesadillas, fruit and nut butters, soups, and anything else that strikes our fancy.

Snacking we do cocoa squares, or gluten free cookies, fruit, yogurt/kefir smoothies, sourdough rolls/toast, or anything the kids are up to creating themselves. Have a great week!

 

Our Weekly Menu

For those getting into a whole foods, traditional diet; the preparations for meals can seem overwhelming. I have found that planning out a week at a time really does help me stay sane and spend less time in the kitchen. I make double or triple batches of things I can freeze and pull out for quick dinners, e.g. beans, brown rice, chicken stock. Having a day where I know I will be baking is helpful as well, since it requires a larger chunk of time and I want to be sure I have that afternoon “free” (whatever that means when you have 7 kids).  I use google docs to keep my menu updated, and I link up any recipes I find online to that meal.

Mind you, this is a plan and does not mean it is set in stone. I change meals around all the time, swap things in or out, or change our plans altogether. All the same, I like to plan for the everyday, not leave it up for the exceptions to govern.

About the Menu: The “Prep” section is for the night prior for any soaking or sprouting that must be done for the next day. I do soak, sprout, dry and mill my own grain for bread; so I like to schedule it in so I make sure it’s ready for a day of baking. The “To Do” section is for out of the ordinary routine type things I want to accomplish that particular day. Giving each day of the week a title like “Laundry Day” is something I picked up from Large Family Logistics; she had some great ideas and helps.

Breakfasts are just a rotation of smoothies, probiotic chocolate milk, sprouted grain toast, eggs, soaked oatmeal, and sometimes the occasional oatmeal breakfast cake. The older children mostly get their own breakfasts and lunches as they do their schooling. I prepare for the smaller ones. Lunches are usually veggie sandwiches, leftovers, salads, or whatever the older children want to prepare. Those two meals are very low key with lots of small snacking here and there, since that is the hub of our school time. It’s almost like we have several courses instead of two meals. 😉

Here is what we have for this week:

Prep:
Monday (Laundry Day)
TO DO: Bake cookies, soak spelt berries

Dinner: Tuna and Potato Bake

Prep:
Drain and rinse spelt berries to sprout

Tuesday (Co-op/Library)
To Do: Have kids pack lunch and books for park and library, rinse berries

Dinner: Salmon, Quinoa Pilaf, Broccoli

Prep: soak adzuki beans (Read up on why I soak legumes, nuts, and grains), soak tortillas

Wednesday
TO DO: Simmer beans in chicken stock in crockpot, cook tortillas, dry spelt sprouts in oven on lowest temperature

Dinner: Bean and Venison Tortillas, Fresh Quac, Raw Cheese, Raw Soured Cream, Salad

Prep: soak white wheat berries, freeze extra beans (leaving 3 cups out for chili), soak oats

Thursday 

TO DO: continue drying spelt, drain and rinse berries, put chicken in oven in the morning, cook oatmeal for breakfast, bake gluten and “sugar” free brownies

Dinner: Baked Chicken, Garlic/Heb Roasted Potatoes, Green Beans, Salad

Prep: rinse berries, continue drying spelt, put chicken bones in dutch oven, add water and apple cider vinegar – bake in oven at 250 overnight for chicken stock

Friday
TO DO: transfer wet wheat berries to fridge, put spelt berries in sealed container, start chili, have children tidy up house for play date, take stock out of oven and let cool

Dinner: Chili, Raw Soured Cream, Raw Smoked Cheddar Cheese, Salad

Prep: debone chicken and store chicken stock

Saturday
TO DO: Mill berries, Bake Sprouted Grain Bread and pizza crusts, work on garden plans for spring, do any extra cleaning

Breakfast: Sprouted Grain Pancakes, Eggs, Turkey Bacon

Dinner: Homemade Chicken Pizza, Salad

Prep:

Sunday
TO DO: Menu plan for next week

Breakfast: Oatmeal Breakfast Cake (using leftover oatmeal), Smoothies

Lunch/Dinner: Brown Rice Pasta with Marinara, Peas and Carrots, salad

Prep: soak spelt berries

Hope you find this helpful. Happy planning!