Raising Natural Kids

Raising Natural Kids provides parents with the resources that they need to make informed decisions regarding their children, specifically focusing on raising children in healthy environments that will benefit their overall well-being.

© Raising Natural Kids 2011. All rights reserved. Text and images are not to be reproduced or replicated without my written consent. Contact me at rnkcommunity@gmail.com.

Aside | Posted on by | 9 Comments

Natural and Mindful Easter Ideas

Somehow Easter became another holiday synonymous with candy and fake food additives, like artificial chocolate bunnies, Peeps, Cadbury eggs, jellybeans, and eggs dyed with artificially derived colors. I prefer to celebrate the holiday for what it is, a celebration of the resurrection of Jesus, but I do indulge my children in the more modern traditions of the holiday as well. Instead of buying into the whole candy aspect and the use of artificial colorings, we take a different spin on things. From egg decorating, to the egg hunt, to the Easter baskets, here are lots of mindful, candy free and artificial dye free ideas with some DYO money saving tips mixed in!

DECORATING EGGS

eggdye I like to eat eggs, just not eggs tainted with the artificial food colorings that are linked to cancers and issues like hypersensitivity and ADHD. These dyes pass through the shell and onto the white of 300my egg, and thus into my body when consumed – not something I find desirable. Four years ago I stumbled upon a great alternative – natural dyes derived from vegetable and fruit sources from eco-kids (This is what I used on the eggs in the bowl above). The colors are amazing. They are not the typical colors that the artificial dyes produce; these are deeper and more rustic. I always use brown eggs, so the colors really turn out neat on top of the brown. You can purchase these on Amazon or, if you are a fellow Long Islander, at Healthy Alternatives in Babylon! Another option is glob’s version, which I have yet to try, but is also made from plant based colors.

An even better alternative is to try your hand at making your own food dyes if you are up to the challenge – just know that some of the homemade dyes have to be made at least 1 day in advance and some of them require you to sit the egg in the dye for 24 hours in order to get a bright color. Here are some recipes: Dyeing Easter Eggs Naturally,  Easter Eggs: Dye ‘Em Naturally so You Can Eat ‘Em Too and from Mommypotamus, Dyeing with Everyday Ingredients. p_101522862

You can also decorate the eggs without using dye at all! Double sided adhesive tape along with some colorful glitter makes for some beautiful eggs. Stickers, washi tape, ribbons and rickrack also make for some unique decor. See these Pretty No Dye Eggs for some examples!

THE EASTER BASKETS

EasterBasketCollageThere are a lot of natural, organic and safe play items that you can fill a basket with (Most listed are made in the USA.  All companies listed are eco-friendly and make non-toxic toys.)

All items in the baskets can be found at Healthy Alternatives in Babylon, NY, for my Long Island readers. I have linked the other items where people from all over can find them.

Baby Basket (Bottom Right): Green Toys Stacker, Green Toys Teething Keys and Green Toys Twist Teether, Rich Frog Rubber DuckRich Frog Lil’ Sparky, and Rich Frog Organic Bunny (sold only in stores), Wooden Baby Rattle, Apple Park Organic Ducky Picnic Pal and Apple Park Organic Bunny TeetherUnder the Nile Organic Baby Buddy, and a Haba Hanging Toy.

Toddler Basket (Top Right): Green Toys Car, eco-kids eco-dough (an all natural play doh that’s so soft!) Apple Park Organic Bunny, Woodstock Chimalong, Tegu Magnetic Wooden Blocks, and Dreamland CD.

Younger Child Basket (left): Artterro Art Kit (made in Canada), Buddha Water Art Board, Ball of Whacks (magnetic 3D puzzle), Children’s Spirit Animal Cards, Non-Toxic Nail Polish by Piggy Paints, and USA made wooden bracelet.

Don’t have a lot to spend? Another idea is to fill the basket with items that the kids are going to need in the coming months, thus you are essentially filling it with things that you need to purchase down the road anyway. Ideas: organic summer pajamas (some great priced pajamas HERE), bathing suits, organic onesies, sunglasses and sandals.


Some Other Ideas:

1. eco-kids eco-dough – the natural version of playdough, OR you can make your own play-dough and store it in old food containers or jars that you have decorated or covered in fabric or paper. I personally like the eco-dough because it has a nice texture and is free of toxins like artificial colorings.

2. Seed kits to start on a garden. Green Toys sells planting kits with eco friendly pots that are super cute and under $6.00!

310ENxBA+YL

3. Any type of organic, and/or eco friendly toys. My favorite ones come from Apple ParkGreen Toys and North Star Toys (no, I am not being paid by these companies, I just love them!). Here are some examples…

 
Green Toys Build a Bouquet
71326mTwBdL._SL1500_
Green Toys Airplane
The Busy Boat by North Star Toys – Great for the Tub!

 

IDEAS FOR INFANTS or YOUNG TODDLERS

81yMUFc-JyL._SL1500_

Quercetti (a great Italian company) – Interlocking Bunnies

713qI3-2ggL._SL1500_

Apple Park Organic Teething  Toy

4057-BunnyTowelDoll

Cloth Bunny Towel Doll – Pure Play Kids

THE EGG HUNT

Easter Eggs

If you hide the plastic* eggs and are looking for safe items to stuff them with, here are some ideas. If you are hiding them for a toddler, buy the larger size eggs as they can hold items that take up more space than the candy traditionally hidden in them, and the items that you place in them can be big enough to not pose choking hazards.

51tWMVYe17L._SL1000_

* Your egg hunt eggs don’t have to be plastic! Check out these compostable eggs made from cornstarch!

**eco eggs also makes eco friendly eco grass made from recycled paper for the Easter Baskets!

1. Coins – my kids love coming into the house after the hunt to put their money in the piggy bank.

2. Stickers work especially well for the younger kids. If you buy sheets that don’t fit into the eggs, you can always cut them down – you can even put one sticker in each egg, making it relatively cheap, while still having something in it that a child will find to be exciting.

3. Plush toys that can squish down. For example, last year we got our daughter something similar to the birds in the photo below and put each of the birds in an egg. We then put the birdhouse in her Easter basket.

4. Finger puppets - Apple Park has some great organic ones, as pictured below.

5. Puzzle pieces – Once the kids find all of the eggs, they’ll have all the pieces to the puzzle. If you are hiding for more than one child, you can color code the eggs.

6.  Hair Clips – What little girl (and sometimes boy) doesn’t love hair clips! You can probably find some great homemade ones on ETSY.

7. Any toy your child will fancy from pure play kids, an ALL AMERICAN MADE company!

logo8.If you want to give jellybeans, but don’t want the artificial dyed and flavored ones, try Jelly Belly’s Superfruit Mix! We try not to give the kids much sugar, so we don’t give these ourselves, but it’s what we let the grandparents give as a special treat.

81t6jTrLZQL._SL1500_

OR

Don’t stuff them at all! Make it a contest with a prize at the end instead of little gifts inside! The prize can even be the Easter basket itself; hide the basket and fill the eggs with puzzle pieces that, once together, give clues as to where the basket is hidden.

 

*Thank you for checking out this post! Some of these links, specifically the ones that lead back to Amazon, are affiliate links. Since I take the time to put all of this information together, it’s a way for me to make a small percentage to cover some of the costs for the upkeep of this blog. Thank you for your support by purchasing through the links. Any other links on this page are not affiliate links.

Posted in Going Organic, Holidays, parenting | Leave a comment

This Just In: I am officially THAT MOM – Saying No to TBHQ and other Junk in Foods

Well, I did it. I officially became known by teachers as that ‘crazy’ mom and my son is only three. Perhaps crazy is too strong a word, one that’s a bit over used these days. I prefer to think of myself as well informed, choosing to make sure my son eats only things that will benefit his overall well being, instead of making him susceptible to illness.

I don’t really think I am irrational about it either. If there is a special occasion, like a birthday, I am not going to single my child out and say he can’t have a cupcake (and if you do, I think that’s ok too!).

PAUSE: Why the cross out? I ORIGINALLY WROTE THIS TWO YEARS AGO. Although I was educated, I didn’t know then what I know now. I have since learned that my son is extra sensitive to all chemical dyes and preservatives, as well as gluten, so he and his siblings are the children who bring their own cupcakes to parties. And you know what – at 5, 3 and 1, they are perfectly happy with this. They trade in any candy in goodie bags for their own special treat from home. UNPAUSE

Lee (my nickname for my son) gets his fair share of treats, and certainly isn’t deprived, at least not by my standards. So, when he started preschool and the teachers were giving him school provided snacks, I figured I would just go with the flow. All I knew from Lee was that he was getting goldfish and crackers. Not my favorites, but it was only two days a week and it could be worse. It was when I volunteered to be the class mom for a day that I found out that the “crackers” were Cheez-Its. No big deal, right? WRONG.

Included on the list of ingredients is TBHQ, and when I saw it listed, I freaked. If you have read my previous post on the chemical, you’ll remember that TBHQ is a form of petroleum (butane), and is used as a stabilizer in oil fields among other things. The FDA says that TBHQ must not exceed 0.02 percent of its oil and fat content. Death has occurred from the ingestion of as little as 5 grams (Winter). Ingestion of a single gram (a thirtieth of an ounce) has caused nausea, vomiting, ringing in the ears, delirium, a sense of suffocation, and collapse (Winter). Thus, this is not something I want my children eating.

door.jpg

The next time I took Lee to school, I asked the teachers not to give him any food containing TBHQ or artificial food dyes. I provided them with the same information about TBHQ that I stated in the previous paragraph. I was met with a question that, sadly, I think many other people might also ask, “well how many grams of TBHQ is in Cheez-Its anyway?” There was no percentage or numbers on the box and I didn’t say it, but I was thinking, “why on earth would anyone put it in their body, much less the body of a three year old after learning that it can be deadly?” and “So putting even .02 grams into his body is ok, because he won’t die from that?” The teachers then asked me to go through the ingredient list of everything else they sometimes give the kids: Items such as Oreos and Teddy Grahams.  The look on my face must have shown my dissatisfaction about these foods being given to the kids, if not for the sugar content alone. I was also shocked because almost all of the snacks on their list contain TBHQ; I don’t buy those foods for my family, so I had no idea that it is in so many products targeted at kids.

Unfortunately, so many parents don’t know that the majority of the non-organic, main stream snack foods contain harmful chemicals such as cancer causing food dyes and TBHQ. I often feel like people’s first response to this is, well it’s FDA approved and on the shelves so it can’t be that bad. BUT the FDA’s first interest is NOT you or your child, it’s money and politics. AND back in the 1600′s to early 1800′s, and still some in the early 1900′s, the same was said about cigarettes and look how many people have died from the effects of smoking. (I don’t know how many grams of tobacco it takes to kill a person, but we do know that inhaling the approximately 0.7 grams in one cigarette per hour or per day, does kill people over a period of time!)

I think that people believe that if these snacks and cereals are on the shelves and other parents are feeding them to their kids, then they must be ok. Because parents often do not see their child reacting to the chemicals in the products right away, they think that their child can tolerate them and they must not be a problem. But, some of these additives take years of accumulation to create a problem – quite like tobacco buildup causing cancer!

I am well aware that Lee’s school isn’t the only one feeding kids these types of foods. I know that even the local YMCA provides snacks like these, and worse. I just can’t fathom not changing what kids are fed after doing just a little research, or even after reading an article like this and seeing the possible long term effects these foods can have. After all, don’t we owe our kids, who can’t yet make educated choices about food for themselves, the best possible foundation to healthy eating and, thus, a healthy lifestyle? When you know better, you can do better. So go ahead, help your family make wiser food choices now that you know!

You have a voice and you have a choice:  Choose healthy snacks for your kids and insist that their school and daycares do to!

SOURCES AND RESOURCES

Ruth Winter.1978. A Consumer’s Dictionary of Food Additives. Crown Publishers, Inc., New York.


FOOD INTOLERANCE NETWORK FACT SHEET

TBHQ Found in Chicken Nuggets

7 Other Chemicals In Your Food (CNN)

Effects of Food Dyes

*Originally published Nov. 2011

Posted in Food, Food Dyes, Reading Labels, TBHQ, Toxic Chemicals in Food | Tagged , , | 5 Comments

St. Patrick’s Day Breakfast Idea

I made this breakfast using leftovers from last night’s dinner. You can use just about any leftover or fresh greens that you have, along with whatever else you may want to throw into the mix.

GreenEggs

INGREDIENTS: (for a family of 5)

7 organic eggs, whisked

1/2 cup of broccoli or any greens that you have (leftover or fresh), finely chopped

3/4 cup quinoa – sprouted and already cooked (mine had butter and parmesan cheese in it from dinner)

2 tablespoons of butter

1 cookie cutter in the shape of a shamrock

DIRECTIONS:

Melt butter in pan. Add greens and quinoa to warm. Add eggs and scramble. When eggs are cooked through, plate by placing the cookie cutter on the plate, filling with egg mixture and then carefully taking the cutter off. Serve warm with whatever sides suit your fancy.

Posted in Recipes | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Respecting Choices Even When We Don’t Agree

Pro

Image | Posted on by | Tagged , | 2 Comments

Why I Ate My Placenta (And Why Moms to Be May Consider It)

I am sure that this title got your attention. There was a time when I didn’t want anyone to know about it – I even swore my husband to secrecy. I only share it here, now, in hopes of educating and helping others.

When my midwife first told me about people eating their placentas, I have to admit that I became nauseous thinking about it, but I was curious so I asked her to tell me more. She informed me that almost all female mammals (with the exception of camels bottledplacentaand sea living mammals) eat their placentas, and that many women in other countries eat their placentas, and that in some places, like Japan, older women actually pay good money for the placentas of women who recently gave birth. My midwife then said that one reason women consider it is because it helps to balance out a woman’s hormones, and prevents/cures postpartum depression.  The words postpartum depression resonated with me and inspired me to do some of my own research.

I had a short bout, about 2 months (which isn’t actually a short amount of time when you are going through it), with postpartum/pregnancy depression. I was in the midst of weaning my son from nursing and in the early stages of pregnancy with my daughter and my hormones were out of control, causing a depression so severe that I didn’t want to be around my own son. I even slept at my parent’s house some nights just to get away from my life. It was a horrible feeling and the one thing I was grateful for was my knowledge of postpartum/pregnancy depression to know what it was I was going through. The memory of having gone through that is just the reason why I was willing to try anything, even if it meant partaking in what some would regard as the very taboo practice of eating my own placenta.

After doing my own research, I learned that along with helping to prevent postpartum depression, that when a mother ingests her placenta after giving birth, it helps to increase her milk production, it contracts her uterus, and it is packed with nutrients, like iron, that new mothers need. And then there’s this: the reason why some older women pay for placenta is that by ingesting placenta, whether fresh or in capsules saved from a child’s birth, it is the best cure for the side effects of menopause!

placentafixed

Once I decided that I would indeed eat my placenta, I knew I had to enlist someone to prepare it for me. At that time, I sometimes had trouble handling raw turkey and beef, so I couldn’t imagine myself cutting apart my placenta. Luckily, one of my midwives agreed to help me out. She cut around the parts I didn’t need, and cut into pieces those I did. She showed me how to make a fruit smoothie that masked any evidence of an organ being the main ingredient and talked me through the dehydration and encapsulation process of the rest.

I drank placenta smoothies 3 times a day for three days and though I can’t know for certain that it’s the reason why I didn’t become depressed any time during my daughter’s first year of life, I do think it played a role. I did have much more energy than I did after I had my son, and I did see a significant increase in my milk supply. I had every intention of taking the capsules when I weaned my daughter, but I ended up being pregnant at the same time. After doing some research, my doula, a placenta specialist herself, advised me not to take it because she found some documents that suggested it could lead to a miscarriage. So, yet again I did have to deal with some  pregnancy depression.

Because of how great I felt after my daughter’s birth having had the placenta, I encapsulated my third child’s placenta as well. This time, I hired a placenta specialist to encapsulate it for me because I didn’t know how much time I would have with three children four years old and under. The specialist cut some up fresh and froze it with juice for smoothies. She encapsulated the majority of it, and she made a tincture out of the rest. The tincture is great because it will last forever if stored and kept properly.

Once again, the placenta worked amazingly well. My milk supply was awesome, I had a lot of energy and I didn’t have any sign of the baby blues or depression. Since my third child is most likely our last, I will be taking the capsules when he weans. I plan on coming back to update everyone then, as with two bouts of postpartum/pregnancy depression without taking them, it will be a true test to see what happens when I do! As for the tincture, I am saving that for menopause.

For those interested in consuming/encapsulating their placenta, you should know that it is very powerful and you do not need a lot at one time. You should only be starting with one or two capsules per day, seeing how you feel with that.

On a side note, after handling my placenta, the specialist called me and said, “I don’t know what kind of diet you were on while pregnant, but that is the healthiest placenta that I have ever worked with.” I mention this because what you eat really does matter both for mother and child. It just so happened that I ate the best with this pregnancy. I almost never took a prenatal vitamin and I did not take folic acid. Instead, I ate foods that had everything that the baby and I needed.

PLACENTA EDUCATION: The main criticism that I get when sharing this story with people who are not educated in the area of placenta eating/encapsulation is that one role of the placenta is to block and carry toxins away from the fetus and thus, it is toxic and should not be eaten. My Response: Yes, the role of the placenta is to provide nourishment to the fetus while blocking and getting rid of toxins. HOWEVER, this does not mean that the placenta itself it toxic, as the normal blood of the mother neutralizes these toxins (The American Physician, Volume 25, by Dr. W. Blair Bell originally published in the British Medical Journal May 1920).

RELATED ARTICLES

New York Magazine – The Placenta Cookbook - For a growing number of new mothers, there’s no better nutritional snack after childbirth than the fruit of their own labor.

Time Magazine – Afterbirth – It’s What’s for Dinner  

Posted in placenta, Postpartum Depression | Tagged , , | 8 Comments