openeyehealth Simple Ideas for Natural Living Fri, 26 Oct 2012 00:53:39 +0000 en-US hourly 1 How to Buy Healthy & Quality Meats Fri, 26 Oct 2012 00:53:39 +0000

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.

]]> 2
Meals Fit for a Toddler Wed, 29 Aug 2012 20:47:23 +0000 Post image for Meals Fit for a Toddler

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.


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.


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

]]> 0
Cloth Diapers Tue, 14 Aug 2012 14:03:15 +0000 Post image for Cloth Diapers

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.

I also have a fabulous waterproof wetbag that is a very stylish accessory to my plain brown diaper bag. I bought it from a local friend who also sells them on Etsy (this pic is the one I have and love!). The wetbag makes cloth diapering on the go convenient, smell-free, and without leak issues. I also wash it right in the wash machine after use (although separately than my dipes because it only needs a cold or warm (not hot) wash cycle. I should note though that *sometimes* when out and about I use disposables for the stay-dry feel and when most people watch baby girl, I leave disposables and regular wipes (except my mom who prefers cloth dipes because she used them for me!!).

My washing routine is a cold rinse cycle with the biggest water cycle and then a hot wash with Soft Bottoms natural detergent meant specifically for babies and diapers on a regular water cycle based on the actual load size. While I haven’t found an ingredients list, I am trusting in this company and my health-focused local store who carries it (even for bulk refills in the same bottle at a discount!). After the hot wash, I run another cold rinse in the biggest water cycle and then dry them in the dryer because I don’t have a clothesline at the time. I heard though that if you dry them on the line, a few minutes in the dryer is still nice to soften them up. I really love the way they come out smelling from the dryer. Fresh and clean, and although there might be stains (helped by sunning and cold water rinsing right after baby poops), they are otherwise perfect and ready for more uses.

So I think I’ve shared all of the info. about my current process, but let me know if I missed anything! If you are new to cloth diapering, you will be absolutely amazed by all of the options available today. All-in-one styles, pocket styles, fitted diapers, natural & organic diapers, and tons of colors and styles. And if you are really searching hard, you can decide if you also want ones that are made overseas or in the U.S., or maybe even locally hand-made. There are so many options that you can see why it becomes almost a hobby while you are helping the environment and saving money. What could be better? :)

P.S. If you are in search of more information on cloth diapering, my local store, Hopscotch, has a ton of great info. on their website and you can also shop online!

]]> 1
Cloth Diapers vs Disposable Wed, 20 Jun 2012 02:29:18 +0000

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!

]]> 3
Preparing for Summer! Tue, 01 May 2012 15:10:35 +0000

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 have those delicious items available locally again soon!

2. Cleaning out my freezer- I’m doing pretty good! Almost all of my frozen fruit is gone- mostly due to smoothie recipes. I even started helping my husband out with his many blueberries because I ran out of strawberries and raspberries. (My current smoothie recipe is below- I change them all the time!). I’m also figuring out what did and didn’t freeze well- my broccoli was awful, squash was great- and so I’m planning for this summer’s modifications. I’m also filling the freezer up with empty gallons of water- a trick to make it run more efficiently b/c an empty freezer has to run more!

3. Finishing up my canned goods and getting ready to dive in again this summer, trying even more things and modifying some. I’ve got more empty mason jars floating around my house than I’d like (I’m guessing 40+), but my goal is to fill them up this summer! My peaches and chili sauce were out of this world, but I didn’t come close to using up all my tomatoes.

4. Switching my baby to cloth diapers!!! She’s approaching four months and aside from the environmental impact of disposables, I’ve learned that MANY dangerous toxins are in them and can have an effect on babies later in life. Not acceptable! This week is the big switch for me! I will hopefully have an separate post up on this soon.

5. Asking for help! I’m trying to scope out yard work as well as housecleaning help so that I have more time to spend enjoying my baby and husband, as well as other things I enjoy doing- like home improvements and blogging :) So hopefully soon I will be able to update more.

Okay, last but not least, here is my current basic smoothie recipe- 1 banana- fresh or cut into slices and frozen for a couple hours in the fridge (boy, does that make for a creamy smoothie!). Then I add a good 1/2 – 3/4 cup plain organic yogurt (will be making it homemade again soon I hope). Then I toss in about 1/2 cup of whatever fruit I have in the freezer.

My favorite is all frozen raspberry or a combo of frozen strawberries and raspberries. BUT I am out. So now it is frozen blueberries and cherries- which are still really good! I also add in a tsp of local raw honey for a touch of sweetness. Yum!


]]> 0
Simplify Your Family Life eBook Sale, over 90% off! Tue, 17 Apr 2012 13:36:08 +0000 Post image for Simplify Your Family Life eBook Sale, over 90% off!

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!

The topics include entrepreneurship & blogging, food & cooking, homemaking, marriage & relationships, minimalism for families, and parenting & kids. It’s a huge resource for tools and information so if you have any goals of perhaps organizing this spring (I know I do!! :) ) or just working to make your home life more simple, check out the specific books below!

Normally, these ebooks are available for purchase at a total price of $375, but until 8 a.m. ET on Friday, April 20th, they are available for only $29! That is over 90% off!

Click Here to purchase your collection today!


When you purchase the Simplify Family Life collection, you get instant access to each of the 38 ebooks listed below:

Entrepreneurship & Blogging

Blogger Behave by Laura @ 10 Million Miles ($4.99)

How to Have Your Cake and Eat It, Too by Mandi @ Life Your Way ($12.00)

Make Money Blogging by Tara @ Feels Like Home ($4.99)

Tap Into Your Unique Creativity and Self Expression Webinar by Lisa @ WellGrounded Life($39.00)

Tell Your Time by Amy @ Blogging with Amy ($4.99)

Your Blogging Business: Tax Talk & Tips from a Bookkeeper Turned Blogger by Nikki @Christian Mommy Blogger ($4.99)

Food & Cooking

Get Lean Recipe for Success by Nisha @ Healthy Mom’s Kitchen ($37.00)

Got Dinner? by Susan @ The Confident Mom ($4.00)

How To Cook For Yourself: A Complete Beginner’s Guide by Rachael @ Kitchen Courses($35.00)

Plan It, Don’t Panic by Stephanie @ Keeper of the Home ($4.99)

Real Food Basics by Kate @ Modern Alternative Mama ($6.95)

Real Food, Real Easy by Erin @ The Humbled Homemaker ($9.95)

Smart Sweets by Katie @ Kitchen Stewardship ($9.95)

The Everything Beans Book by Katie @ Kitchen Stewardship ($9.95)


2012 Confident Mom Weekly Household Planner by Susan @ The Confident Mom ($9.00)

Clean Start: Your Guide to Natural Home Cleaning by Michelle @ Open Eye Health ($4.95)

Complete Printables Download Pack by Mandi @ Life Your Way ($7.00)

Food on Your Face for Acne & Oily Skin by Leslie @ Crunchy Betty ($7.99)

From Debtor to Better by Barry @ Debtor to Better ($15.00)

My Buttered Life {Summer + Gift Giving Editions} by Renee @ MadeOn Hard Lotion ($10.00)

Not a DIY Diva by Melissa @ The Inspired Room ($3.99)

One Bite at a Time by Tsh @ Simple Mom ($5.00)

That Works for Me by Kristen @ We Are THAT Family ($8.00)

Marriage & Relationships

A Simple Marriage by Corey @ Simple Marriage ($4.99)

Buck Naked Marriage by Corey @ Simple Marriage ($2.99)

Entangled by Amy @ Permission to Peruse ($4.99)

The A to Z Guide: 26 Ways in 26 Days to a Happier, Healthier Marriage by The Dating Divas($9.97)

Minimalism for Families

101 Ways to Simplify Your Life by Laura @ Journey to a Simple Life ($9.95)

321-Stop by Lori @ Loving Simple Living ($9.97)

Inside Out Simplicity by Joshua @ Becoming Minimalist ($11.99)

Simple Ways to Be More with Less by Courtney @ Be More with Less ($9.97)

The Minimalist Mom’s Guide to Baby’s First Year by Rachel @ The Minimalist Mom ($9.95)

Parenting & Kids

4 Moms of 35+ Kids Answer Your Parenting Questions by the Moms @ 4 Moms, 35+ Kids($7.99)

Flourishing Spring by Michele @ Frugal Granola ($5.95)

Mindset for Moms by Jamie @ Steady Mom ($4.99)

Nurturing Creativity by Renee @ FIMBY ($3.00)

Parenting with Positive Guidance by Amanda @ Not Just Cute ($9.00)

Truth in the Tinsel by Amanda @ Impress Your Kids ($6.99)

The Simplify Your Family Life Sale is brought to you in part by Plan to Eat, an online meal planning app that makes eating at home simple. Receive an exclusive coupon code on a one-year membership with your purchase!

Click here to purchase your collection today!

The sale ends at 8 a.m. ET on April 20th, and there will be no late sales offered, so don’t wait.

For information on reading these on an e-reader or tablet, and other frequently asked questions, click here.

]]> 0
Spring & Change Mon, 26 Mar 2012 21:53:13 +0000 Post image for Spring & Change

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 (while also making me busier than I’ve ever been before!). I’m still going to try to keep up posting at least once a week from now on and might feel the need to throw up a few extra baby topics now and then, too. :)

I’d be lying if I said I hadn’t missed blogging and the community, and of course, I’m still drawn to all sorts of health topics. I can’t wait for the farmer’s market to open this year, but at the same time I’m working through much of the food I’ve preserved by canning and freezing. I’m all for the peaches, chicken, and chili sauce lately, but I’m not sure why my pile of frozen broccoli is looking so much less enticing than it did before? *Recipe Suggestions Welcome!*

I also want to thank all of you who have supported my blog by checking out my natural cleaning eBook, Clean Start, and I truly hope that you have enjoyed it and found it helpful. I personally can’t wait to tackle some spring cleaning around our new “old” 1919  house- there’s just nothing like that fresh, clean feel with all the windows open and warm spring air circulating.

Spring is also a great time for cleansing and detoxing the body, too, but since I’m nursing my focus has to be on simply eating healthy and exercising. I’ll try to pop up with some simple recipes now and then that I’m enjoying.

So I’m off to an aerobics class soon here and will be back sometime next week with either a recipe or my first dive back into a health topic!


Photo by Betty155

]]> 2
“Smart Sweets”: A Better Option Mon, 21 Nov 2011 13:59:24 +0000

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 me (high fructose corn syrup, anyone?).

So coming across Katie over at Kitchen Stewardship’s new eBook, I wanted to share it with you as there are 30 dessert recipes (89 pages total) including recipes for chocolate syrup, brownies, cakes, and fudge bars- all made healthier! She also takes the time to explain about different sweeteners, alternatives to sugar, and where to find them. Some of the goals she incorporates (as a “real foodie”) into the book are:

  • Less sugar
  • Healthier sweeteners
  • Whole grains, soaked/sprouted grains, or no grains
  • Probiotics
  • Some vegetables

Yes, some of the recipes still contain some sugar, but I have to agree with a good point that Katie makes in her post about it: while the health benefits of using other sweeteners than white sugar are undeniable, realistically, sometimes it is just too expensive to use sweeteners other than sugar (for bake sales, etc.). The price of pure maple syrup, local raw honey, sucanat, and even stevia can be just too costly to serve much outside the family.

So if you are interested in giving healthier desserts a try with simple, tested recipes, click here to purchase the book for only $9.95!

Also, one last important note, many of the recipes in Smart Sweets can be adjusted to specific dietary needs. 17 recipes are gluten-free (15 of these are also grain free), 16 are dairy free, 15 have been tested egg-free, and for most recipes any nuts called for are optional!

Disclosure: I am an affiliate of Kitchen Stewardship’s eBooks, which means I’ll earn a small commission from any sales made through these links. However, I won’t promote anything I don’t personally believe in (plus the brownies are totally delicious!) 



]]> 2
Organic Garden First Year Re-cap Thu, 17 Nov 2011 01:54:37 +0000 Post image for Organic Garden First Year Re-cap

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 of some of the produce!

The not-so-lovely photo above just “happened” to get taken while testing out a new camera I received as a birthday present. Nevertheless, those are some of my cucumbers and zucchini (no, the camera didn’t add ten pounds to that big zucchini- it was huge!) that I was able to enjoy.

I’ll re-cap starting at the beginning. I planted lettuce, spinach, beans, dill, zucchini, carrots, broccoli, tomatoes, cherry tomatoes, marigolds, and cucumbers. By far, my most successful vegetable was the cucumbers. I have never seen so many in my life- there were days when I picked at least 20 and had no idea what to do with them all (after making pickles and cucumber salads, of course!).

I gave as many away to friends and family as possible, and learned a valuable lesson to limit the number of cucumber plants (when I only had 5!) so as not to have any go to waste! Obviously, I used nothing besides seeds, water, dirt, and sunshine and these babies came out pretty much flawless. Only towards the end of summer (when this picture was taken) did they grow a bit mis-shapen as the plants were winding down.

My favorite item by far that I grew was leaf lettuce- I picked these delicate leaves all summer and felt SO lucky enjoying many tasty salads and BLTs. I found that the leaves do wilt quick (I always tried to get them in a crisper in my fridge ASAP), especially with my commute home, but I noticed that they would fare better if I picked them in the morning or evening- anytime but when they were warm from the sun.

Unfortunately, I never saw carrots or spinach come up in the garden and I’m not sure if I accidentally “weeded” them when they started growing or if the seeds just didn’t take. I planted seeds for everything except tomatoes and cucumbers (free leftover plants from my mom!) and these are the only ones that just didn’t show. I may try them in a different spot next year to see if that also may have been a factor.

The marigolds (good for natural pest control in the garden), grew amazingly well from the seeds. I had NEVER seen such a healthy, bushy row of them. I was really, really impressed. I also planted zinnias just to have for picking (which did unfortunately upset a few bees) and they were beautiful, too. I had heard and confirmed with experience that they are very sturdy flowers, you can almost completely ignore them and they will still grow. :)

Zucchini, beans, dill, and broccoli were another success in the garden. A good amount of broccoli made it into the freezer, but that was before some deer figured out where it was growing (despite my small fence). The zucchini grew great and that big one pictured was definitely an accident. It spent a good amount of time growing in some weeds before I realized it existed and was HUGE! The beans were also good, but next year I need to be a bit more prepared with what I’ll use them all for!

Last, but not least, I had some tasty tomatoes from my garden, but most of them weren’t too pretty. I don’t mind cutting off the bad parts and still using them, but I think next year I’ll have to try to prop them up better to not be growing so much on the ground. The cherry tomatoes looked better than the big ones and that is really the only produce that really didn’t look perfect considering the whole garden was organic.

Overall, it was a bit of work for my first try at organic gardening, but I think it was very worth it and proved a good learning experience. If you had advice or experiences to share, I’d love to hear them and will save any tips for next year!

]]> 0
Homemade Baby Food: Butternut Squash Mon, 07 Nov 2011 13:49:48 +0000 Post image for Homemade Baby Food: Butternut Squash

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!), due on January 7. As fast as fall is going so far, it will be nothing short of a miracle if I am able to get anything else in the freezer (including regular meals for my husband and I) before she is born!

Since this is my first “go” at baby food, I am no expert and would appreciate any advice, tips, or tricks that you experienced moms may have! I just did the very basics and am hoping for the best. Making baby food seems like a very easy process (although it was a bit harder with my feet hurting so much last night!), but just requires a little bit of time. In my mind, it’s worth it for the health benefits of improved nutrition (the freshest foods available locally)- plus you know exactly what goes in it and how it was processed. The basic steps I followed were: cook the food plain, puree it (I used my trusty food processor), and then freeze it.

I know they have those wonderfully fancy little freezer containers at baby stores (and I even added a few to my registry!), but I had an extra ice cube tray free and figured that I would give that method a try first. Each “ice cube” is approximately one ounce so it should still be easy to track how much to thaw/feed the baby.

To start, I cut the butternut squash in half, removed the seeds, and baked it on a cookie sheet at 350 degrees for about an hour and 15 minutes. I knew it was done when I could slide a fork easily into the thickest part. I let the squash cool for quite a while on the counter and then scooped out all the insides into my food processor.

I ran it in the processor until the squash was nice and creamy with no chunks. I then carefully scooped the squash into the ice cube tray (trying not to make too big of a mess) and placed it in the freezer overnight. Today, I will pop the frozen squash cubes out of the trays and put them in freezer bags (hoping I’ll be able to reuse them again later) so they will be easy to grab and thaw when I need them.

I’m pretty excited to at least have made my first attempt with baby food, although I’m sure I still have lots of practice and learning to do!

]]> 0