How to Buy Healthy & Quality Meats

by Michelle on October 25, 2012

When it comes to meat, there are 3 choices: conventional, organic, and pastured or grass-fed. In most cases, they are not all available at the same store and can sometimes be difficult to find, depending on where you live. The prices between these options are drastically different, but so are the way they are raised and processed.

Conventional meats are what you find at most grocery stores. They are the absolute lowest price and generally mass-produced. Unfortunately, they are the most unhealthy for your body. In many cases, the animals are not raised in a humane fashion as there is not enough room for all of them and the conditions are unclean (you might have heard of factory farms?). Suffering and sickness in the animals can results and drugs are needed to battle this. Also, animals can be given hormones to increase the production of meat and milk. Sometimes the feed given to the animals is even questionable as it can be quite unnatural in these conditions. Remember that the animals are supposed to be eating grass, bugs, etc.

Organic meats are a step up as there are additional regulations about what can be fed to them as well as there are usually better living conditions for the animals. This definitely shows up in the price of the product, but if I ever have a choice between conventional and organic, I’ll buy organic whenever possible for meat and milk. However, organic meats still aren’t perfect and aren’t the very healthiest for your body.

Pastured or grass-fed meats are, in my opinion, the best, but most expensive by far. They are also often available only locally at farm stores, farmer’s markets, or local stores specifically carrying healthy products (although not all health stores will carry them). For example, a store that I go to locally, Nourish Organic Market, carries only grass-fed products, however, another even bigger local health store, Harvest Health, does not. Grass-fed animals have access to the pasture and therefore their natural diet, and have room to roam and live normally. They may be supplemented with small amounts of grain, but the best part is you can usually talk to the actual farmer specifically about how the animals are raised and what they eat.

This is huge. We are meant to be eating animals that eat a natural diet, and that are raised in healthy conditions. Anything less than that is providing a less-than-nutritious or downright toxic (i.e. conventional) addition to our diet. I would personally be tempted to eat a different kind of protein entirely than eat conventional meat because it is so bad. I do not want extra hormones and things going into my body.

Yes, the cost for pastured is SO much more. But if you can make trades within your budget, maybe you can make it work. For example, I think about buying pastured chicken breasts from a local farm for $10. Yikes! I cringe and REALLY hate to pay that much. BUT, if I were to go out to eat and order a meal with chicken breast at a sit-down restaurant, I might pay around $10 for that meal.

The pastured meat would be much healthier and more nutritious and if I prepare it myself (and usually it can serve my husband and I easily), and we eat in instead of out, that makes it affordable. And I feel SO much better about how the animal was raised and what I’m putting in my body. Plus, I get to support my local farmer and that is really a win-win.

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Meals Fit for a Toddler

by Michelle on August 29, 2012

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I am excited to share a guest post today by Katie of Moore From Katie

During your pregnancy; you probably worked hard to be sure you ate healthy and exercised properly to nourish the baby in your womb. You probably tried more than ever to be as healthy as possible, wary of the fact everything you put into your body would be also going to your unborn child. This most likely continued throughout all of your pregnancy and even through the infant/breastfeeding stage. However, as your baby gets older he or she will have to learn to eat on his or her own, and the choices her or she makes on what to eat will only be influenced by mom, not made by mom.

As your baby reached toddler age, you probably vowed to serve your toddler water instead of juice, carrot sticks instead of cookies, and a diet that includes a wide variety of fruits and vegetables. How long did it take before you were eating those words? Reality usually sets in somewhere around the second year of your child’s life. Suddenly, they have an opinion and the will to refuse any food you offer.

It’s not uncommon for parents of toddlers to feel uncertain about their child’s diet. Perhaps he refuses to eat anything but hot dogs for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Maybe she denies herself all foods except macaroni and cheese and chocolate milk. As a parent, you want to introduce wholesome, healthy foods to your child, but we all know that is much easier said than done. Keep trying, moms and dads. Use your creativity by sneaking vegetable purees into sauces, and let your kids have fun with their food by presenting it in playful ways.

Breakfast 

Introduce a variety of fruits during breakfast, including apples, applesauce, pears, bananas, pineapple, kiwi, strawberries, blueberries, and mangoes. Mix a few different fruits with a bit of yogurt, ice, or milk in a blender for a healthy smoothie to start the day. Most toddlers love fruit because of its natural sweetness.

Snacks 

Many toddlers prefer small snacks throughout the day, as opposed to three square meals. Instead of fighting this urge and worrying that your child is going to “spoil his appetite,” provide healthy snacks made with fruit, vegetables, and whole grains.

Serve pretzel sticks with an assortment of various colored fruits, served like a rainbow on a plate. Let your toddler spear the bite-sized chunks with the pretzels and munch away. Let them dip fruit into low-fat yogurt.

Think of the plate as an artist’s canvas and create little scenes with food. Cut cheese into the shape of the sun, then place broccoli “trees” around a “pond” of ranch dressing. Cut food into letters or geometric shapes. Even the simplest ideas will surprise and delight young children.

Lunch and Dinner

Sneak some vegetables into lunch and dinner wherever possible. Add grated carrots to the macaroni and cheese, or sautéed spinach to spaghetti sauce. Make kid-friendly favorites from healthy ingredients, like spaghetti and meatballs, baked chicken fingers, homemade macaroni and cheese, and baked french fries. Avoid making something completely different for your toddler because he refuses to eat the meal.

Getting a toddler to eat more wholesome foods will most likely be achieved by trial and error, but know your efforts will not go unnoticed – especially by your growing baby’s body. Once you learn what works for you and your toddler, will eating will just become a part of your everyday life- A happy and healthy life.

Katie Moore has written and submitted this article. Katie is an active blogger who discusses the topics of, motherhood, children, fitness, health and all other things Mommy. She enjoys writing, blogging, and meeting new people! To connect with Katie contact her via her blog, Moore From Katie or her twitter, @moorekm26.

*Photo by agastecheg

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Cloth Diapers

by Michelle on August 14, 2012

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While my cloth diapering experience (as I hinted in the previous post) hasn’t been quite perfect, I find that most of the time it’s something I really enjoy doing and that I’m proud of for the environment and my baby’s health. In the grand scheme of things, it really adds very little to the amount of laundry I’m already doing weekly and I’ve secretly (okay, not so much anymore!) found it to be sort of a hobby. You have to admit those big fluffy buns and cute colors are fabulous! :)

So, you might be surprised to hear that I have been most successful with…drumroll… prefolds! I use Bummis organic cotton prefolds and  absolutely love them. In my experience, pee NEVER leaks out of these. EVER. The one and ONLY thing I don’t like about them is inherent with any prefold- there is no stay-dry feel and baby must be changed more often or they will stay soaking wet. For this reason, I’m not quite comfortable doing them at night, even with extra layers when baby sleeps so long.

And guess what, no more safety-pins for doing prefolds these days, I have a set of 2 Snappis (and could really use a couple extra because they tend to get lost easily in the diaper bag) and they have some small plastic sharp edges that hold the diaper together. You just have to be careful that they aren’t grabbed by little fingers or accidentally caught onto other fabrics during a change.

I have 18 prefolds, not quite enough for 2 days worth so I do wash them a LOT. They are a little bulky, too, like any cloth diaper meant to last as a baby grows, but I like buying clothes in a bigger size anyway so baby girl can wear them for a while.

But what’s especially nice about prefolds, is that even though I have to change the prefold, unless I get a big poopy blowout, I really don’t have to change out the cute covers often. Although I could get by with 3 total, I have two Bummis snap covers and 2 Tweedle Bugs snap covers. The polka dot picture is one of the Bummis covers- love that cute bum in it!!

When I started my diaper collection, I also picked up 6 brand-new Bum Genius pocket diapers that have an microfiber insert and a stay-dry liner for against baby’s skin. I really, really want to love these diapers. But, right now, I can’t. Unless I do them so tight on baby girl’s waist that she can hardly sit up right, they leak pee. I’m not sure if it’s her particular body shape or if I’m really supposed to do them that tight, which I refuse, but either way these bad boys pictured above are rarely used.

I know they technically do work because I’ve stripped them of any possible buildup, but I can’t get them to comfortably fit my girl without leaks. However, since they should work until she is potty trained, I’m hoping to hit a point in her growth where they do fit well. So, I’m not selling them and I’m holding out and rooting for them yet.

In my cloth diaper collection is also a Bum Genius sprayer connected to the toilet. I now use it since baby girl started solids, but at this point I still have a hard time keeping that mess contained to the toilet. Boy, does that thing almost have too much spraying power. Luckily, I can adjust it a bit and think it will only take practice. We’ve only been doing solids for about a month so far so I’m pretty new to using this convenient accessory.

I also have a natural butt cream/salve that I was able to get from my local store (beware, you can’t just use regular grocery store brands with cloth diapers as they can cause major build-up and then absorbency issues) and some lovely flannel wipes (which I’ve switched to using with just water) although I also have some of this amazing smelling homemade diaper spray made up with California Baby shampoo. Baby girl has sensitive skin though and I guess I just don’t feel there is a need for soap with every wipe. I mean, it’s not like toilet paper has soap on it and we use it no problem. You also have to be careful for build-up on diapers, although prefolds as I understand are the most forgiving when it comes to this.

My diaper pail is a dark brown FuzziBunz hanging pail. I do love that it can hang on door handles or wherever and that it has a bottom zipper so absolutely NO touching of dirty diapers as they go into the wash machine. The bag also goes right in and gets washed with the diapers. Air flow to the hanging bag is supposed to help with odors, but for me, this is not a perfect fix. I could try adding essential oil to it for smell, but in reality, don’t always have time for that. That said, I’d be open to any great pail suggestions, even if it involves a covered one. [click to continue…]

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Cloth Diapers vs Disposable

by Michelle on June 19, 2012

So I’m finally getting around to posting about my thoughts on disposable diapers. I started out using them full-time on my baby girl because I just didn’t think there was any way I could start out on a first time baby (literally knowing NOTHING about babies- including how to swaddle!), living with no sleep, and simply trying to eat and drink enough to nurse while also learning to do cloth diapers. I had to choose one thing at a time and I decided that getting a good start to nursing was more important.

But outside of the obvious environmental impact, there are a few things I REALLY dislike about disposables. Don’t get me wrong, I still use them now and again because the convenience simply can’t be beat and there are situations where sometimes I run out of cloth before I can wash them, or I know that I’m going to need that stay-dry feel for quite a while.

But, back to what I specifically don’t like…

1. The overpowering scents used to make them smell fresh or not dirty? To me, they just smell gross and “chemical-ly” These can contain phthalates, by the way. Not good…

2. The general smell of plastic- I have noticed that some brands are WAY worse than others, but still.

3. The idea that I’m pretty much throwing away money, literally. Yeah, water and energy go into cloth diapers, but I SURE don’t get that same feeling.

The strong plastic smell and scents, along with the general chemicals that go into the diaper making process scare me a bit as they are supposed to cover my baby’s oh-so-cute bum and girl “business” all the time. Not only does the area hardly get any air, but to constantly have chemicals up against them? Not my cup of tea. Especially since I’ve read about serious potential issues such as chemical burns, asthma, diaper rashes, and even infertility in men (due to elevated temperature) from them.

It would figure that the diaper industry is “self-regulated” when obviously someone genuinely interested in the health of our babies and not profits should be doing this. So don’t be surprised that ingredients do not even have to be fully disclosed. In fact, one study showed that “xylene and ethyl benzene were emitted by the diapers, chemicals that are suspected endocrine, neurological and respiratory toxins; along with styrene, a chemical linked to cancer and isopropylene, a neurotoxin.” Yikes.

Truthfully, there are more chemicals than I can list going into disposable diapers, some being extremely toxic. Dioxin, a by-product of the chlorine bleach process has been found in trace amounts and is highly carcinogenic. Also, sodium polyacrylate crystals, which are used for absorbency in the diaper, are also thought to possibly be related to TSS in tampons.

So while I could research this topic to death and ramble on and on, the potential issues above were enough to make me switch to cloth, at least for most of the time. Doing cloth diapers is way easier than I thought it would be and whenever I need to use a disposable I’ve been using Huggies Pure & Naturals. Do I think they are perfect? No. A disposable probably can’t be, but it would be great to see one! :) I’d like to look into other options soon, but for now at least they don’t have the fragrances added. Plus, they are the only “natural” option available at my local grocery store.

So next time I post it will be to describe what I’m using to cloth diaper baby girl to date, my issues (no, they haven’t been perfect so far!), and what I like most about them. Stay tuned!

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Preparing for Summer!

May 1, 2012

Sorry I’ve gotten a little busy… but here’s what’s going on with me now! 1. Anticipating the opening of our local farmer’s market this week! Yippee!! I realized that I’ve really been slacking on eating my fruits and veggies because they have so little flavor from the grocery store in the winter. I’m excited to […]

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Simplify Your Family Life eBook Sale, over 90% off!

April 17, 2012
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I am honored to be included in this year’s Simplify Your Family Life ebook sale put on by Mandi at Life… Your Way and Corey from Simple Marriage. My ebook Clean Start, a guide to natural home cleaning, is included in this set along with 37 other ebooks in a variety of topics regarding family life! […]

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Spring & Change

March 26, 2012
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So in case you were wondering… yes, I am alive!!! I’ve taken quite a break from blogging due to moving to a new house and more recently enjoying spending every day with my new baby girl, Ellia. She is only 10 weeks old, but has managed to change my life so much for the better […]

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“Smart Sweets”: A Better Option

November 21, 2011

When it comes right down to it, most of us like to have dessert once in a while (or more often than that!). The biggest problem I have is finding recipes that taste delicious, are simple to follow, and even if they don’t have huge nutritional value, they are at least not downright terrible for […]

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Organic Garden First Year Re-cap

November 16, 2011
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Thanks to one of my wonderful readers, I was reminded that I never did a re-cap on my first attempt at organic gardening! Also, despite the loads of fruit and veggies that I brought home with me over the summer (my garden was in a family member’s backyard), I also never took a good picture […]

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Homemade Baby Food: Butternut Squash

November 7, 2011
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Last night I decided to make my first baby food for the freezer with some wonderful butternut squash from my mom’s garden. It was so bright orange and flavorful, I couldn’t help but eat a few scoops myself after it was cooked! I’m a little over 31 weeks now with our first baby (a girl!), […]

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